Tony Romo has gone from the face of the Dallas Cowboys to watching from the sidelines while healthy as Dak Prescott lights up the NFL in one of the craziest debut seasons by a quarterback in league history.

It has led many to speculate over Romo’s future, with plenty believing the quarterback will seek a trade this offseason in the hopes of getting back to a starting role.

Many also believed that Romo was likely to get a chance to knock off the rust in Week 16 with the Cowboys secure in their playoff future and having clinched home-field advantage. That didn’t happen this past Monday night, despite the Cowboys dominating the Detroit Lions for much of the game.

It apparently isn’t going to happen this weekend either, as Darren Woodson is reporting that Jerry Jones’ crew has activated third-string QB Mark Sanchez ahead of their meaningless Week 17 matchup.

Woodson clearly has a theory that Dallas is protecting Romo from potential injury when the team takes on the Philadelphia Eagles and likely is far enough ahead to get the backups some significant playing time.

That’s one theory, but for me this screams of the Cowboys more worried about his trade value in the offseason than any potential of injury. Protecting Romo from dangerous hits certainly helps that cause, but so would show that Romo, despite his injury history in the league, still has it on the field.

Of course, any future trade partner is going to have injury concerns with Romo, regardless of him playing or not in this upcoming game. One appearance isn’t likely to sway a team to pull the trigger on a trade or back away from a deal.

However, what may be attractive to a potential trade partner is the fact that Romo has been the ultimate professional through all of this. He took the shots over his alleged “weight gain,” watched as Dax Prescott became so good that the Cowboys couldn’t take him out of the starting lineup and gave an emotional speech when healthy enough to play that ended speculation over his role on this team.

Romo has been a sponge for Prescott to soak up all the knowledge possible and has most importantly, not been a distraction to the Cowboys’ insane run through the NFL regular season.

Let’s remember his words in that famous speech following his healthy return to the roster, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“We all know something magical is happening to our team,” Romo said. “I’m not going to allow this situation to negatively affect Dak or this football team by becoming a constant distraction. I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it’s about the team. It’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.”

Those weren’t just words, they were followed up by the actions to prove those words had real meaning.

Now we’ll see Mark Sanchez likely getting the reps when Prescott and the Cowboys are comfortably ahead. Romo isn’t likely to cause a fit over the move, he’ll just keep it moving knowing that his time will come with someone else in 2017.

It’s just interesting to see the Cowboys make the move this obvious by protecting him from any chance of injury in a meaningless game.

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!