If performance were tied to salary, the Dallas Cowboys would be sitting pretty with Tony Romo, and Jerry Jones would look like a genius for giving his quarterback a contract worth $119.5 million dollars. Unfortunately, at least for the Cowboys, that's not how life in the NFL works, and the contract gave rise to more problems than it solved.
But first, let's look at the positive aspects of the contract. Over the next seven years, the Cowboys will have a starting quarterback that will almost certainly do more than enough to hold off any rookies or free agents Dallas brings in to challenge for that spot. That creates relative stability at a position that is central to winning in the NFL.
Furthermore, Romo's contract guarantees some level of continuity as the Cowboys switch head coaches, and yes, that was a prediction. If recent trends hold up, Jason Garrett's last year in Dallas should be 2013. Bill Parcells made it from 2003 to 2006, Wade Phillips followed by making it from 2007 through most of 2010, and Jason Garrett should make it through 2013 following that pattern, but that's the end of the line for him.
On the down side, the Cowboys have dedicated a great deal of resources to a quarterback that has yet to prove he can win in big game scenarios. Tony Romo has become synonymous with choking in clutch moments. Case in point, he's failed to win games in week 17 two years running that would have put the Cowboys in the playoffs. In both cases, the game was against a divisional rival that made it into the playoffs.
Jerry Jones appears to be the root of most of the problems in Dallas. He's overestimated his own ability to build a football team, and now he wants to push Romo to do more as the team's starting quarterback. That doesn't work. Although Romo may not stay with the Cowboys for the next seven years, he'll still be collecting a huge piece of change because of Jones' gigantic investment. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, it appears that the Cowboys will be entering a rebuilding year following 2013 unless Tony Romo lives up to Jerry Jones' unrealistic expectations. The Cowboys already know what they're getting with Romo, but they're paying him like he's something more.