Good Friday turned into a great Friday for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo and the Cowboys agreed on a six-year contract extension that is likely to keep him wearing the star on his helmet for the remainder of his career.
Romo would have been in the final year of his contract in 2013. His new deal, which would keep him with the Cowboys to the 2019 season, was worth US$108 million with US$55 million guaranteed, sources said.
Romo started his career in Dallas as an undrafted free agent out of eastern Illinois. He now becomes the highest-paid Cowboys player in franchise history and the fifth-highest-paid player in the NFL.
Romo, who will be 33 in April, will turn 40 years old the April after he plays the last season of his new contract.
"There will be no greater reward, besides winning a Super Bowl, than playing my entire career as a Dallas Cowboy," Romo said. "Our goal is the Super Bowl, and I am determined and honoured to be the guy in this position to help our team do that."
Romo has often been much maligned because of his lack of play-off success. Unlike previous Cowboys franchise quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, Romo has not led the Cowboys to Super Bowls.
In fact, Romo has won only one play-off game since he took over as the Cowboys' starter midway through the 2006 season. However, he has remained one of the NFL's top quarterbacks in terms of statistics and is the Cowboys' all-time leader with 177 touchdown passes.
Romo also holds the club's single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns.
"This is a significant day in terms of securing stability for our team for the future," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "We are very confident in this investment and commitment. Tony is uniquely qualified to lead this team for the next several years."
Romo had all the leverage in the contract negotiations because the Cowboys needed to free up salary-cap space and he would have become an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season. He was set to count US$16.8 million in 2013 against the Cowboys' salary cap, but his new deal reduced that cap hit to US$11.8 million, a source said.
That frees up US$5 million in salary-cap space that the Cowboys can now use to pursue more free agents.
Romo last signed a contract extension with the Cowboys in 2007. That was a six-year deal for US$67.4 million with US$30 million guaranteed.
Romo's new deal gives him US$3 million more in guaranteed money than 28-year-old Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl win before cashing in with a new six-year, US$120.6 million contract earlier this month.
Romo will receive a US$25 million signing bonus and will be paid US$57 million over the first three years of the contract, according to sources.
The pressure is now on Romo more than ever to return America's Team to the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys have not reached the play-offs since 2009 and finished 8-8 each of the last two years, both times losing season-ending games that cost them a post-season opportunity.
Romo said, however, he was excited about the upcoming season and some of the changes the Cowboys have made.