INDIANAPOLIS – As the NFL quarterback carousel prepares to begin spinning in free agency and those teams expected to be involved (and even those that aren’t) attempt to predict the next destination of Tony Romo, several people within the sport said they regard the Houston Texans as a strong contender.
There will be plenty of quarterback-related intrigue in the coming days and perhaps weeks with Romo, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick among the veterans expected to be available. There is particularly intense interest about what will happen with Romo, the four-time Pro Bowl selection likely to leave the Dallas Cowboys after rookie sensation Dak Prescott took over as the team’s successful starter this past season while Romo was hurt.
The Texans and Denver Broncos have been prominent in the Romo speculation. Several agents and coaches and executives with other NFL teams said in recent days at the NFL scouting combine that they regard the Texans as the most likely destination for Romo.
“That one makes the most sense to me,” a high-ranking official with one franchise said. “I don’t think anyone in the league would be surprised to see that one happen.”
It is not clear yet if Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will release Romo, putting the quarterback completely in charge of picking his next team, or try to get something in return for Romo via a trade. Even in a trade scenario, Romo potentially could exert some control over where he is headed. He is to count $24.7 million against next season’s salary cap under his current contract. A team trading for Romo would inherit that contract and might be interested in reworking the deal. It’s also unlikely a team would trade for Romo if he does not want to play there.
The Texans signed quarterback Brock Osweiler to an $18 million-per-season deal in free agency last offseason. Osweiler struggled and was benched in favor of Tom Savage late in the season but regained the starting job when Savage suffered a concussion. The Texans beat the Oakland Raiders in a first-round playoff game but lost at New England in an AFC semifinal.
Houston has a powerful defense that will again have J.J. Watt after he was injured and missed much of this past season. The Texans also have a proficient offensive line and running game and might regard themselves as a viable Super Bowl contender if they can add Romo and he can stay healthy and in the lineup.
The Broncos likewise can offer Romo a high-powered defense as a complement, and they are only one season removed from winning a Super Bowl title in quarterback Peyton Manning’s final season. Denver has bigger questions about its offensive line and running game. John Elway, the Hall of Fame quarterback who is the Broncos’ chief roster architect, also must balance any desire to develop young quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch with a possible urge to take a win-now approach with Romo.
Other possibilities for Romo might include the Kansas City Chiefs if they’re willing to unseat Alex Smith as their starter, which they say they aren’t, or the Buffalo Bills if they part with Tyrod Taylor.