FRISCO, Texas – Tony Romo looms as perhaps the greatest unknown in determining the Cowboys' final roster, as team executive vice president Stephen Jones is well aware.
The NFL deadline to reach the 53-man limit is Saturday afternoon, and Romo will have to be part of that final tally. But the decision of what to do with him after that – either move him to injured reserve or leave him on the active roster – is a bit more complicated.
"We're getting our hands around it, and of course we'll be needing to make that decision – obviously sometime later in the weekend," Jones said on Wednesday.
Romo suffered a compression fracture to his L1 vertebrae roughly a week ago when he was tackled awkwardly during the preseason loss to Seattle. Recovery time is pegged at 6-to-10 weeks, which puts the Cowboys in a bit of a bind with regard to his status.
They could place him on injured reserve and designate him to return, but that would remove him from the active roster for eight weeks. He wouldn't be able to practice until after Week 6, and the earliest he could appear in a game would be Week 9 against Cleveland.
If they carry him on the active roster, he could return to action as soon as he's ready. But in the meantime, while he's recovering, he would be occupying a roster spot the Cowboys could better use elsewhere.
Regardless, Romo will need to be on the 53-man roster when cuts are made. What happens after that is still being decided.
"We've got to have him through the 53 cut before we could put him on designated-to-return – if we wanted to consider that," Jones said. "But it may be that we just keep him on the roster. We'll just see."