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Insurance policy all but guarantees Romo will get paid

  • By Adam Schefter NFL Network
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Circumstances in Dallas have changed so dramatically that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has gone from being his team’s insurance policy to having a $30 million one.

Before the season, without anyone noticing, Romo took out a $30 million, “loss-of-value” insurance policy, meaning the Cowboys quarterback, now in the last year of his contract, will be cashing in whether he’s healthy or hurt.

What’s different and notable about Romo’s loss-of-value policy -- unlike the permanent-disability insurance policies numerous athletes have taken out over the years -- is that he doesn’t have to suffer a career-ending injury to get paid.

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
As a matter of policy, Tony Romo will be taken care of in the event he suffers an injury.

Romo’s loss-of-value policy spells out that the quarterback would be eligible to be paid if an injury contributed to a downturn in his performance that affected his value on the open market.

If, for example, Romo broke his pinkie and his statistics slumped, then the quarterback would have a compelling case to collect on his policy.

The premium on it is not cheap; it is costing Romo somewhere in the vicinity of $150,000 this season. However, it enables him to have peace of mind and play with reckless abandon, knowing that he is insured in the event of injury.

Romo is not the only Cowboy in the last year of his contrcat playing with an insurance policy. Running back Julius Jones also has a $2.5 million insurance policy, but his is for permamenent disability. Jones would have to suffer a career-ending injury to cash in on it.

Romo is getting paid one way or another. If he stays healthy and continues playing the way he has this season –- Romo is the conductor of an offense now ranked No. 1 in the NFC –- then Dallas either will be forced to sign him to a lucrative, long-term extension or slap the exclusive franchise tag on him.

The exclusive franchise tag would block any team from trying to sign Romo to an offer sheet but also would mean the Cowboys would have to pay him the average of the five highest quarterback salary-cap numbers in 2008, which is expected to be over $14 million.

Big dogs on PUP

Seymour and Smith sounds like a law firm. But they are New England’s Pro Bowl defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Denver’s standout wide receiver Rod Smith, the latest players on the Physically Unable to Perform list to return to practice to try to help their teams.

Each player can be activated anytime in the next 21 days.

The timing of Seymour’s return is yet another blow to the rest of the league watching and sighing over the Patriots. He is their best defensive lineman -– maybe the best in the league – and the five-time Pro Bowl selection will make an already dominant team even better.

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Seymour’s return to practice comes a week-and-a-half before New England’s showdown in Indianapolis against the Colts. With that much time to continue his recovery from knee surgery, Seymour should be back for the game against the Colts. It was one of his goals all along, to return to action as soon as possible.

Smith’s return is even more improbable. Six weeks ago, it seemed as if the standout career of Smith was over. He was returning from off-season hip surgery, walking slowly, hardly looking as if he could play football again.

But now, almost magically -- and not unlike running back Priest Holmes in Kansas City –- the 37-year-old Smith has healed and is practicing.

After spending the season’s first seven weeks on the PUP list, Wednesday was Smith’s first day back at practice since last season. Denver now has 21 days to activate him, and it is expected that the Broncos will do that sooner rather than later.

Denver could use him, too. Just last week, Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker underwent knee surgery that is expected to sideline him six weeks, if not for the remainder of the season.

To get back a receiver like Smith aids Denver the same way Holmes’ return has benefitted Kansas City. The Broncos now have a proven veteran, an inspirational leader, and an unlikely contributor.

In other Broncos news, cornerback Champ Bailey returned to practice Wednesday from his quad injury and should be ready to play Monday night against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.

Another player on PUP expected to return next week is Bengals running back Chris Perry.

"Chances are he'll practice with us next week, and then we'll work him in as we go that way," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "We'll have three weeks once he begins practicing to make a determination. We've tried to continue to ramp him up, and he tries to simulate what's going on on the practice field on his field, so that we can really best judge how he's doing."

QB carousel

» Panthers quarterback David Carr went through a full practice Wednesday, an encouraging sign for Carolina. Panthers coach John Fox has said that if Carr is healthy, he will be Sunday’s starter. Fox said he wants to wait until Thursday to see how Carr feels before proclaiming a starter, but if events hold up the way they are, it would be an upset to see anyone but Carr starting.

» San Francisco feels a lot better about Alex Smith’s chances of starting this week compared to the way the 49ers felt last week. Last week, Smith was supposed to be limited, and was. Wednesday, Smith was supposed to be limited, but wasn’t; he went through the full practice. Barring any setbacks with his shoulder, Smith will start Sunday vs. New Orleans.

» Indications are that quarterback Daunte Culpepper will start for the Raiders at Tennessee this week. Culpepper took all the reps with the Raiders first-team practice Wednesday, the most revealing sign of Oakland's quarterback intentions. Raiders quarterback Josh McCown, whom doctors thought could miss six weeks with a broken toe, returned to practice Wednesay after only four weeks and feels ready to play. But it looks like, for now, the Raiders prefer to go with Culpepper.

» Houston QB Sage Rosenfels took the majority of the reps at Wednesday's practice, but Matt Schaub was a limited participant, doing more than the Texans thought he could with his hip and ankle injuries. Texans coach Gary Kubiak declined to name a starter for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers, but keep this in mind: Houston thinks Schaub is beat up and could use time to get rest.

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"You just keep going," said Texans coach Gary Kubiak. "You get a feel for it, watching guys make plays they normally make -- plays in practice -- and move around the way they normally move around to have to play in this league. Sage (Rosenfels) needs the work anyway, so we'll just operate that way, and if (Schaub) continues to make progress, then that's a bonus. But (Wednesday) was better than I thought it would be."

» Jets players felt that Chad Pennington would get not only Sunday’s game against Buffalo to start, but also a Nov. 4 home game against Washington. But after the Jets bye week on Nov. 11, all bets are off and Kellen Clemens could be the starter at anytime.

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