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Cowboys cannot use the franchise tag on Tony Romo in 2014

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Tony Romo cannot be franchised in 2014 (USA Today Sports Images)

As the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo continue to work towards a contract extension, the veteran quarterback has some additional leverage as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Cowboys are prohibited from using the franchise tag on Romo next offseason.

Of course, the Cowboys probably would not use the tag on Romo next offseason, even if they possessed the ability to do so, as the cost, in both base salary and cap space, would be too great.

[Report: Packers, Aaron Rodgers nearing long-term extension]

Thanks to previous renegotiations and restructures, Romo has a cap number of $16,818,835 for the 2013 season. That's the largest on the Cowboys, representing 14 percent of the team's "Adjusted Cap Number" of $119,999,156 for this season. If the Cowboys are unable to reach an extension with Romo, and hypothetically could use even the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on him next offseason, Romo's franchise tag would be worth 120 percent his 2013 cap number, or $20,182,602, an amount that would be fully guaranteed once the turning 33-year-old quarterback (who was intercepted 19 times last season) signed the tender.

From a salary cap perspective, Romo would count much more than $20,182,602 against the Cowboys' 2014 cap.

[Also: Will QB Matt Barkley get drafted in the first round?]

Because Romo is technically signed through 2016, the $8.181 million in signing bonus proration from 2014-16 will accelerate onto the Cowboys' cap once the deal voids after this season. If the Cowboys could have used the tag on Romo next offseason, he would count over $28 million against the team's cap (his $20.183 million tender plus the $8.181 million in accelerated bonus proration) in 2014, which would around 20 percent of the team's cap number.

Considering that the cap is not expected to increase significantly in 2014, and that the Cowboys are unlikely to have any "carryover" room from 2013, avoiding that $8.181 million in signing bonus acceleration may be the biggest motivator for the Cowboys to reach an extension with Romo this year.

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