Jerry Jones expects Romo to be Cowboys' QB for 4-5 years

INDIANAPOLIS -- On the same day Tony Romo said he was leaning toward having a protective plate surgically implanted to strengthen his left collarbone, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he expects his 36-year-old quarterback to be the starter in Dallas for the "next four to five years."

Both of those events took place on Saturday, also the same day the top quarterbacks in the 2016 draft worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, just a short walk from where Jones had parked his luxury Cowboys tour bus and was entertaining reporters' questions.

"What is the one unequivocable fact that you can count on relative to the preparation of this draft and on draft day is that I'm planning on Romo being the quarterback for the next four or five years," Jones said via ESPN's Todd Archer, one of the reporters on the bus. "That's a fact. You won't see a decision on draft day that will fly in the face of not believing, from our standpoint, that he'll be our quarterback for four or five years."

If we are to take Jones at his word (a tough thing to do in draft season), then spending a pick at No. 4, where the Cowboys draft in the first round, would make little sense. As tempting as it might be, taking a player like Carson Wentz, thinking he'll potentially sit for four to five years behind Romo, would be wasteful.

And it's not like the Cowboys are rebuilding. This is a team that suffered through injuries last season, namely to Romo, that resulted in a down year. Getting Romo back, and adding a few pieces in free agency and a couple more in the draft, especially at No. 4, might be enough to win the NFC East and perhaps make a deep run in the playoffs.

Jones seemed to hint that might be the plan.

"When you've got this high of a pick and you have the circumstances we're in right now with where we are as a team and with the quarterback, you've got to look at what's available to us for sure and knowing that with these qualities of picks you can get some contributions, immediate contributions," Jones said. "I couldn't tell you today at all how we might make the decision. This is one of those that might not be made until we're down to the last 10 seconds on the clock."

NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock believes it would be awfully difficult for the Cowboys to pass on Wentz if he was still there at No. 4, and sees the North Dakota State quarterback the perfect fit for the Cowboys because of the lower level Wentz played at in college.

"I'd love to see him sit for a year," Mayock said. "If I'm Dallas at No. 4, I'm sitting there licking my lips because I have a 36-year-old quarterback that hasn't finished a season in three years, and you're probably not going to be at four again very soon."

With that said, passing on a quarterback at No. 4 still might make sense for a team that has drafted only two quarterbacks since Troy Aikman retired in 2000 and for an owner that has taken only one QB in the first round since he bought the Cowboys in 1989.

Sooner or later, though, the Cowboys will have to think about life after Romo. It still could be in this draft, in the later rounds. NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt tweeted on Saturday that Dak Prescott of Mississippi State might be the perfect quarterback to groom on a team with an established starter.

Jones, for one, wasn't dropping any clues as to what the Cowboys might do on draft day, whether he knows them at this point or not.

"There's no one breathing that has any idea at this time what we're going to do with that first pick because I don't," Jones said. "And there's nobody you could talk to that thinks they're leaning that way to do that because I'm giving you the lean right now. I think Romo is going to be our quarterback for four or five years and we'll make all decisions accordingly."

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