What NFL History Says About the Houston Texans Signing Tony Romo

By: Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac)

Conversation and debate in this city about whether or not the Houston Texans should sign Tony Romo—assuming he’s released by the Dallas Cowboys—has heated up over the last couple weeks, with people on both sides having reasonable arguments to make a case for either signing him or avoiding him.

On one side, Romo would be the most talented quarterback in franchise history if he’s 100% healthy and is a massive upgrade over Brock Osweiler, but the other side has legit concern over Romo turning 37-years-old before the season starts, only starting four games over the last two seasons due to injury, and his history of coming up short in the playoffs.

So, I got curious about how many times a 37-year-old quarterback, in his first season with a new team, and after missing the entire previous season posted numbers better than what Osweiler did for the Texans in 2016 (3,000 yards/15 TD)?

Obviously that’s a very low bar that I fully expect Romo to clear if healthy, but I still wondered what history said about the situation.

The player season finder on Pro-Football-Reference.com didn’t let me add the criteria of playing for a new team or having missed the previous season, but there have been 17 quarterbacks in NFL history who have produced better stats than Osweiler did in 2016 during their age 37 season.

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime to win Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Some of the names on this list of 17 won’t surprise you:

  • Tom Brady
  • Peyton Manning
  • Drew Brees
  • Brett Favre
  • Warren Moon
  • Steve Young
  • Kurt Warner
  • John Elway
  • Dan Marino

Each of those guys is either in the Hall of Fame already—or will be as soon as they’re eligible—and they also played in the passing league era.

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass down field against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Cardinals won 23-20. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Look up their full stats from their age 37 seasons on this link, but the other names on the list are:

  • Y.A. Tittle
  • Roger Staubach
  • Rich Gannon
  • Carson Palmer
  • Vinny Testaverde
  • Doug Flutie
  • George Blanda
  • Dave Kreig
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

So, Romo (other than health concerns) can easily be ranked ahead of Testaverde, Flutie, Kreig, and arguably a few others which gives me more confidence, but what about the other criteria of playing for a new team and having missed the previous season?

It took a few more clicks to research it, but of the 17 quarterbacks only Dave Kreig played for a new team in his age 37 season, but he did start seven games the year before.

Vinny Testaverde only started one game in the season before age 37, but his age 37 season was also his third year playing for the New York Jets.

Every other quarterback had already played at least one year with the team they were on during their age 37 season, and had started at least 10 games the previous year.

So, if Tony Romo in his age 37 season produces 3,000+ passing yards and 15+ passing touchdowns while playing for a new team, after not starting a single game the year before, it would be the first time in NFL history that situation has happened.

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