Player valuation has always been and will always be a process based around the most recent and most memorable accomplishments. That’s why Joe Flacco is about to make bank with a lucrative multi-year commitment, a paycheck based largely on his playoff performance. If we use the same linear, often narrow thinking with Tony Romo, then surely he deserves much less than the $20 million-ish big Joe will reel in after his Cowboys finished 8-8, yes? All we care about is wins, baby.

Such is the debate that’s beginning now somewhere in an elaborate Cowboys office lined with marble. Romo is set to enter the final year of his contract and earn $11.5 million next year, and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said today that watching as the contract of their franchise quarterback expires isn’t something his team does. Hence, extension talks have started, and they’re now in the informal stage.

Jones is cool with having Romo occupy a significant chunk of his team’s salary cap real estate, and he wants to lock him up for about five more years. With Romo turning 33 in April, that will make him 38 when the deal expires. That’s not young, but it’s not old for a top-tier quarterback either, as Drew Brees will be the same age when his five-year deal signed last fall expires, while Peyton Manning is 37, and Tom Brady is 35.

Jones said the solution to the good quarterback problem is a simple one: if you have a good one, you should probably keep him.

From CBS:

“When you have a good one and you’re fortunate enough to have a good one, then he’s going to take up the biggest part of your cap space, so you have to be partners with one another and you have to do things.  No one wants to win more, no one wants to have success more than Tony. He knows in order to do that we have to manage our cap and he plays a big part in that because the percentage of the cap that he takes.’’

The next problem — and I use the word hesitantly — that the Cowboys may run into as this negotiation begins is the same one that the Packers could encounter next spring when they start the same exercise with Aaron Rodgers, and it’s all that Flacco kid’s fault.

Look, no one is trying to take anything away from Flacco. He had a great 2012 season, and more specifically an excellent playoff run and second half of the regular season. But he’s aiming for $20 million annually, which financially puts him on the same level as Brees and Manning. When we look beyond this year and at the entirety of Flacco’s career, that’s simply absurd.

Yet it’ll happen, because the premium on the quarterback position in a passing league has grown to be just that high. So if Flacco is worth that much, then Rodgers is worth even more annually ($22 or 23 million?), and then Romo falls in between those two.

We like to focus on Romo’s interceptions, and indeed, he threw many of the stupid variety this past season, tying a career high with 19. But that’s one number among many, as we’re then disregarding his completion percentage (65.6) that was much higher than Flacco’s (59.7), and his passing yards per game (306.4, to Flacco’s 238.6). Then there are other metrics where the two QBs are nearly equal, such as passer rating (Romo: 90.5, Flacco: 87.7), and yards per pass attempt (Romo: 7.6, Flacco: 7.2).

Going back to Romo’s interceptions, his 2012 total is an outlier when compared to other recent full seasons, as during the 2011 and 2009 seasons (he missed 10 games in 2010) he threw a combined 19 picks. He needs and deserves Flacco money, and how he gets there — possibly thorough the franchise tag — remains to be determined.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • Dee Milliner will have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder after this week’s Scouting Combine. I would have featured this more prominently if his adventure under the knife was expected to sideline him for any length of time, and therefore effect the draft stock of an expected top five pick. But it isn’t, and he’ll be ready for training camp in July. No worries. [Schefter]
  • Matt Barkley’s injury is a little scarier, and can be compared to the shoulder injury suffered by Sam Bradford during his final year at Oklahoma. [Jene Bramel]
  • The Eagles’ running backs are preparing for a heavy workload under Chip Kelly. []
  • Game breaking wide receivers will be difficult to find early in the draft. You hear that, Miami? [Miami Herald]