When the curtains closed on the misery that was the 2015 Dallas Cowboys season we all dreamed about this week, Week 1, and its ensuing glory. We closed the curtains and our eyes, and we saw Tony Romo’s valiant return as the centerpiece of the Dallas Cowboys. 12 days ago when he was lying on the field in Seattle… that dream turned into a nightmare.
We’ve seemingly woken up from this nightmare – perhaps only momentarily – as the Cowboys have currently decided to keep Tony Romo on the active roster, despite a prognosis that he would require 6-10 weeks of recovery time. What does that timetable have to do with this roster decision? When should Tony Romo come back? We’ve got the answers for you as always, here at Inside The Star.
What Would Putting Romo On IR Mean In Terms Of Time He Misses?
When NFL teams suffer the loss of a player for the whole season they typically put said player on the Injured Reserve list. This is like putting a player back on the shelf for the rest of the season, while keeping him as a member of that club, giving you the freedom to fill that roster spot with someone who can contribute now. Fairly simple stuff.
Beginning in 2012 the NFL implemented a “short-term IR” rule that allowed a team to only shelve a player temporarily. This unique IR spot is limited to one usage per team and requires that the player whom it is used on sit out at least six weeks before being eligible to practice and eight weeks before being eligible to return to the active roster. We saw the Cowboys use this exact distinction on Tony Romo just a season ago.
There is a small change to this rule beginning this season. Previously the team using this “short-term IR” had to decide to use this when initially placing the player on IR. The IR Designation To Return (proper rule name) now does not need to be announced ahead of time. You can have one, three, five, or infinity players on Injured Reserve and see how their health is progressing before you exercise this option on the player you choose. This is the option that the Cowboys currently have with Tony Romo.
Should the Cowboys at any point decide to put Tony Romo on IR with the Designation To Return it would mean that he would have to sit out six weeks before being able to practice and eight weeks before being eligible to return to the active roster. This clock begins when you place the player, in this case Romo, on IR and tracks weeks – not games.
What Does Keeping Tony Romo On The Active Roster Cost The Cowboys?
The current plan is for Tony Romo to be on the Cowboys 53-Man Roster, but be one of the seven inactive players on Sundays until he is ready for a return. For as long as this is the case… Tony Romo is technically burning a roster spot.
Now it isn’t a total match burn as some teams carry three quarterbacks and leave one inactive on Sundays anyway. When you look at the 2016 Cowboys though, you have to wonder if that spot could be better used in the interim on a guy like Deji Olatoye or a pass rusher that could seriously help what looks like a porous defense on paper.
What Can We Discern From Tony Romo Not Being Placed On IR?
Tony Romo’s timetable to return is somewhere in the range of 6-10 weeks. As placing him on IR with the Designation To Return would sideline him for at least eight game weeks (having him return November 6th in Cleveland), the Cowboys must feel that Romo will be ready sooner.
The Cowboys have their Bye in Week 7 this season, so say Romo will miss 6-7 weeks. That would put him on track to return just one week before the Browns game for an October 30th home date against the Eagles right after the Bye. It actually makes a lot of sense for the Cowboys to simply carry Romo, while hoping their roster remains intact everywhere else, so that they can hold on to the IR with Designation To Return in case another player needs it down the road.