NFL

Why Is CBS Giving Tony Romo the Biggest Deal Ever?

Tony Romo will earn more as a network football analyst next season than Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Baker Mayfield made combined playing in 2019. And unlike NFL quarterbacks who find themselves constantly on the run on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights, he can count on not getting sacked for a very long time.

Tony Romo has broken a TV record

The New York Post broke the story that retired Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has agreed to a new contract to remain as the analyst on the top NFL game televised on CBS each week. The report placed Romo’s salary at $17 million on a contract that runs at least six years, meaning the total value of the deal is in excess of $100 million and the largest ever for a TV sports analyst.

John Madden’s final contract, signed with NBC in 2005, had been considered the gold standard of football analyst deals. Madden was earning $8 million a season when he retired after the 2008 season. Troy Aikman, another former Cowboys quarterback, makes $7.5 million a year for his work as a game analyst at Fox.

Romo’s initial deal with CBS, a three-year contract at about $4 million per season, was considered sizeable for a television rookie but didn’t approach the $9 million a year he averaged during his playing career.

CBS reportedly protected itself in its first contract with Romo by inserting a clause requiring him to notify the network what it would take for him to sign a new deal before listening to offers by other networks this spring. CBS executives presumably expected ESPN to offer that much, so they struck first.

Tony Romo reached the top of the profession quickly

Tony Romo was already assured a substantial raise for his next contract, but CBS likely felt pressure to keep Romo from entertaining offers by rival networks at the end of his initial deal. ESPN is expected to give its Monday telecasts a fresh look and presumably would have made an attractive offer to lure Romo to the cable network.

Instead, Romo will remain alongside play-by-play man Jim Nantz, who has a knack for drawing out interesting perspectives from the former quarterback. The two started working together in 2017.

The reason for having Romo replace Phil Simms on the top CBS games each week became apparent almost immediately. His background as a quarterback, both on the field and in the film room, contributes to an uncanny ability to predict play calls and then explain what just happened in terms easily understood by viewers.

Romo, 39, also provides a mix of humor and commentary that adds to his appeal with hardcore fans and casual viewers.

Romo has performed at a high level before

Although Tony Romo officially retired from the Dallas Cowboys after the 2016 season, it has been longer than that since he was a full-time NFL quarterback. His last full season before injuries ended his career prematurely was 2014.

Romo arrived in Dallas as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003 and didn’t take over as the starter until the 2006 season. He went 78-49 as a starter, ending his career with 248 touchdown passes to 117 interceptions. He also had 34,183 passing yards to finish with a 97.1 career quarterback rating.

Though just 2-4 in playoff games, he threw eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions in the postseason.