DALLAS — Tony Romo is retiring from the Dallas Cowboys to replace another former quarterback in Phil Simms as lead analyst for CBS.
The network announced Tuesday that Romo will be paired with Jim Nantz on Thursday night and Sunday games next season. The former 10-year starter considered multiple network offers while also deciding whether to keep playing after losing the Dallas job to rookie Dak Prescott last season.
Romo was released by the Cowboys and said he had interest from other teams, but chose the switch to broadcasting for several reasons. The married father of two young boys with another child on the way battled injuries his last two seasons, and said the CBS opportunity was difficult to pass up.
“It reminds me of my rookie year where you really don’t know anything,” Romo said. “You’re walking into a brand new situation and you can kinda play the game. I can kinda talk. But this is a completely different world. I like that challenge.”
The departure of the team’s all-time passing leader has been expected since November, when Romo conceded the job after missing 10 weeks with a back injury. The Cowboys were in the middle of a franchise-record 11-game winning streak with Prescott when Romo returned.
The delayed release, caused in part by Dallas looking for a trading partner, gave Romo time to consider his future. The four-time Pro Bowler who rose to stardom after going undrafted in 2003 out of lower-division Eastern Illinois chose the path taken by two former Dallas quarterbacks — Don Meredith and Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, the lead analyst for Fox since 2002.
While Romo didn’t say he was retiring from football, he left little doubt that his playing days were likely over.
“I could play tomorrow. I’m making this decision with the choice to be able to play as well,” said Romo, who turns 37 this month. “Do I envision coming back and playing football? Absolutely not. I’m committed to CBS for good. Do I think I’m going to get some calls? I’m sure I will.”
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said the network planned to keep Simms and was working on finding another role for their lead analyst the past 19 seasons.
Romo, who was signed through 2019, had a $14 million base salary and a $24.7 million salary cap hit for the Cowboys this season. The expected roster move will reduce Dallas’ cap hit to about $19 million, likely spread over two seasons.
Romo said his release was a financial consideration — he would have had to repay a portion of his signing bonus upon retirement — and praised owner Jerry Jones despite his former boss backing out of a plan to release Romo before free agency opened.
“As an organization, we did what he asked us to do in terms of his release, and we wanted to do what was ultimately in his best interest and in the best interest of his family,” Jones said. “He is a young man who is just getting started on a long journey in life. All the best, my friend.”
The franchise leader with 34,183 yards passing and 248 touchdowns, Romo never parlayed his regular-season success into deep playoff runs the way Roger Staubach and Aikman did before him. Romo was 78-49 as the starter in Dallas, but just 2-4 in the postseason, with no road victories and no trips to the NFC championship game for a proud franchise that is one of just three teams that hasn’t played for the NFC title the past 21 seasons.
His most recent postseason win — in the wild-card round against Detroit — came during the last season that Romo was the full-time starter in 2014. The next season, he missed 12 games with a twice-broke left collarbone as the Cowboys went from first to worst at 4-12.
When Romo broke a bone in his back during a preseason game at Seattle last year, Prescott had already shown promise in the first two exhibition games. After losing his regular-season debut to the New York Giants, Prescott guided the Cowboys on their record streak, with Romo as his backup for the final three wins.
Romo played just one series in his final season with Dallas, and his last pass was a 3-yard touchdown to Terrance Williams in a meaningless regular-season finale at Philadelphia. His last snap in a home regular-season game was the last of three broken collarbones sustained in his career, on Thanksgiving in 2015 against Carolina.
While chided for his interest in golf and celebrity girlfriends, Romo developed a reputation for toughness. He led two fourth-quarter comebacks on the road with serious injuries — fractured ribs and a punctured lung at San Francisco early in 2011 and a herniated disc in his back at Washington two years later.