ESPN just came out with a list of the highest paid athletes for 2013, and Romo comes in at 14. The only problem? The list is inaccurate. The list contains several NFL players, including Aaron Rodgers 4th overall on the list with $40 million and Mathew Stafford at 6th with $31.5 million.
The footnote at the end of the lists notes that only base salaries and prize money were taken into consideration. Romo's actual base pay: 1.5 million, a fair bit less than he $26.5 million reported. So where did he extra money come from? Romo signed an extension that included a $25 million signing bonus. And unlike the NFL, which extends the signing bonus across the years of the contract -- Romo counted for $11.5 million against the Cowboys salary cap in 2013 -- the ESPN list included the lump sum up front.
This creates a list without any real meaning. The players on the list aren't those who cost the team the most in salary cap space, but instead, those who either (1) earned a new contract or (2) actually helped the team by converting base salary into a signing bonus in order to reduce their impact on the salary cap, which is what Romo's extension did for the Cowboys in 2013. His original salary cap number was $16.5 million, with the extension reducing this number by $5 million.
By way of comparison, Peyton Manning comes in just below Romo on ESPN's list with $25 million in pay. However, Manning counted $17.5 million against the Broncos cap, over 50% more than Romo's $11.5 million cap figure.