Wednesday afternoon, the reports dribbled in from all of the Cowboys' beat reporters: Tony Romo, the team's starting quarterback since November 2006, is going to be released.
Today is the first day of the NFL's league year. Romo's demise was inevitable — the writing's been on the wall since Dak Prescott led the Cowboys back against the Redskins during week two of the 2016 season.
But now Cowboys fans know the details of how of their maligned, beloved gunslinger will march into the sunset. In the end, thanks in no small part to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' devotion, Romo will be able to shop himself to each of the NFL's 32 teams. The Cowboys will walk away from the relationship with only salary cap relief after being unable to secure a trade.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the Cowboys will classify Romo as a post-June 1 release. He'll become a free agent immediately, but the team will be allowed to spread his remaining $19 million cap over the next two season. If the Cowboys do not use the June 1 tag on Romo, his entire remaining cap cost will accelerate onto this season's salary cap. There's a downside to spreading the money out, however, as doing so means the Cowboys will have to carry the entire $24.7 million they would've owed Romo had he played in Dallas in 2017 on their salary cap until June 1, limiting their options in free agency.
Romo will not lack for suitors in free agency. The Broncos and Texans, two teams with championship-caliber defenses and intramural-quality incumbent quarterbacks, are expected to compete heavily for the oft-injured but still talented Romo's signature. As of last week, the Los Angeles Rams, still needing a quality quarterback to eat playing time while 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff develops, are rumored to be interested in the Romo sweepstakes as well.
With Romo's departure, the Cowboys are already on the hunt for a veteran backup. Wednesday, before news of Romo's impending release leaked, former Browns quarterback Josh McCown paid the team a visit in Frisco to audition for the team's backup quarterback job.