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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Yes, there is a good case for the Vikings acquiring Tony Romo

By Matthew Coller

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings - Sun, 18 Dec 2016 12:42:07 EST
Editor’s note: This article was originally published Jan. 19, but with the news that the Tony Romo will be released by the Dallas Cowboys when free agency begins, we’ve decided to run it again…

The reasoning behind the Minnesota Vikings’ trade for Sam Bradford was pretty simple: The Vikings are a win-now team. Otherwise GM Rick Spielman wouldn’t have traded a first-round pick for a quarterback with a so-so resume and significant injury history after franchise QB Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season.

But Spielman spent years building up the Vikings’ defense, picking nine defensive players in the first three rounds of the NFL draft since 2012. He also signed quality veteran players like Captain Munnerlyn, Terence Newman and Linval Joseph to beef up the roster for his defensive-guru head coach Mike Zimmer.

With all the pieces in place, and a 11-5 season in the rear view mirror, the Vikings couldn’t simply punt on a year that they could be a legit contender with good quarterback play. They had to make a risky move.

That window did not close with an 8-8 season in 2016. The Vikings will bring back most of the key players on defense and have plenty of cap room to bolster the offensive line, receiving corps and running backs. So if the Vikings applied the same logic used to acquire Sam Bradford, then they would be on the phone with Jerry Jones about the price to acquire Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Listen as ESPN’s Trey Wingo mentions Tony Romo and the Vikings

The cap

The Cowboys have turned the page to Dak Prescott, who went 13-3 this season as a rookie starting quarterback and led a brilliant comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs before being eliminated by a freakish final drive by Aaron Rodgers. Romo carries a $24.7 million cap hit in 2017, making it impossible to keep him around as a backup quarterback.

Very few teams are actually in a position to acquire a quarterback who will be 37 next season and takes up a huge chunk of cap space. Most clubs either have their own franchise QBs already or aren’t ready to compete next year a la Cleveland, Chicago etc. But the Vikings check off those boxes.

If the Vikings released Sam Bradford and did not pick up Adrian Peterson’s option, they would create $51 million in cap room and only pay Bradford $4 million in dead cap space.

The commitment to Romo would be essentially two years. By 2019, he could be released with only $3.2 of his $20.5 million counting toward the cap.

The added salary cap benefit of trading for Romo is that the Vikings would not have to commit to Bradford with a long-term deal. The former Eagle and Ram is set to become a free agent after 2017. If you consider Kansas City’s Alex Smith as a close comparable to Bradford, the Chiefs’ QB signed a four-year, $68 million extension in 2014. Pro rated to 2018, the Vikings’ quarterback could be looking at something like four years for $80 million-plus.

The risk/reward

The biggest concern about trading for Romo is his recent injury history. The veteran quarterback has played in just five games since 2014, missing almost all of 2016 with a back injury. Of course, injuries are very hard to predict. Bradford had a serious injury history, then was healthy for the entire season behind one of the league’s worst offensive line. But at 37, it is fair to assume his injury risk is high.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 2.32.51 PM

The reward is where the win-now part comes into the equation. Romo is one of the greatest quarterbacks of the generation, though he is often under appreciated because he does not have a Super Bowl ring.

Only Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady have a higher career quarterback rating among active quarterbacks. Bradford comes in at 21st.

Of course, QB rating isn’t always the most accurate representation of how well a quarterback played. But Romo is toward the top of every major category, including Yards Per Attempt adjusted for interceptions (see graphic).

The last time Romo played a full season, he led the NFL in rating, QBR, completion percentage and Yards Per Attempt. Not to mention he went 12-3 as a starter is 29 games over .500 for his career.

Bradford has never had an Adjusted Yards Per Attempt that was above league average, whereas Romo has never been below average and has twice led the NFL.

In 2016, Bradford struggled on third down, posting the third worst Yards Per Attempt at 5.8 per throw. Romo averages 7.8 YPA on third down for his career.

As for the question about whether Romo is clutch: He may not have a Super Bowl ring, but he is seventh among active QBs in game-winning drives with 30. Bradford has eight.

But better career stats certainly don’t guarantee he will be better in 2017 than Bradford would be. That hope would be pinned on the recent history of old elite quarterbacks. Tom Brady is in the MVP running at 39, Drew Brees tossed for 5,208 yards and 35 touchdowns at 38, Carson Palmer had an MVP-caliber year in 2015 at 36, Peyton Manning had over 100 quarterback ratings at age 36, 37 and 38.

The risk wouldn’t be unprecedented either. When Palmer arrived in Arizona, he was considered washed up. Manning had neck surgery so severe it was questionable whether he could even play again. Heck, a 39-year-old Brett Favre had come off a 22-interception year with the Jets when he came to Minnesota.

At the time, however, none of those teams had answers at quarterback that were as good as Bradford. The baseball comparison might be either sticking with a guaranteed .250 hitter with 15 home runs or trading for a player that has a 50-50 chance of hitting .300 and 30 home runs.

Considering the Vikings brought back offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Spielman spent huge assets to get Bradford from Philadelphia, it appears to be very unlikely that Romo will end up in Minnesota. Should the Vikings at least consider the move? Well, there is a strong case for it.

The post Yes, there is a good case for the Vikings acquiring Tony Romo appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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