Jason Witten is stamping out any speculation that he will be the next head football coach at his alma mater.
Former FOX Sports radio host Clay Travis reported on Monday that the Dallas Cowboys tight end had informed Tennessee that he would leave the Cowboys in order to take over their vacant head coaching job.
A few hours later, Witten directly shot down the report, saying that he was not interested in the Vols position. He also proceeded to reaffirm his commitment to Dallas, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.
The 35-year-old Witten is in his 15th NFL season and has spent all of them with the Cowboys. As for Tennessee, they ran into a bit of trouble to say the least trying to hire another candidate with some NFL ties, and it sounds like they won’t be getting much from the ten-time Pro Bowler Witten either.
Week 4 featured a few surprises — hello Houston! — while some teams continued impressive trends of winning or disappointing trends of losing. You had the Titans get blown out, the Dolphins’ offense fail to produce once again, and four teams slipped to 0-4. Some team units had abysmal performances on Sunday, and some star players had down days.
Here’s a look at the 15 biggest disappointments of Week 4 in the NFL.
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
The Oakland Raiders’ offense was anemic for the second week in a row, and Cooper was at the center of the disappointment. Cooper had just two catches for nine yards on eight targets. He dropped a pass in the fourth quarter, giving him an NFL worst seven drops on the season. Then when the Raiders were making a final effort late in the game to try and take the lead, a pass intended for Cooper was intercepted. One could argue he could have done more on the play.
After consecutive 1,000-plus yard seasons to start his career, Cooper has been a total disappointment this season with just 12 catches for 110 yards and one touchdown. That’s the kind of stat line fantasy football players were hoping to see weekly from the receiver!
New England’s defense
The Patriots were hoping that Dont’a Hightower’s return would help stabilize one of the NFL’s worst defenses, but it was not to be as New England once again struggled to stop an opponent at home. Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers entered the game looking like an inferior opponent, having struggled with inconsistency during the season. But they came into Foxboro and posted 444 yards on a comparatively modest 60 plays. New England forced two turnovers, but it wasn’t enough, as they still lost 33-30. There has to be serious concerns about how bad this unit has been all season.
Nick Folk, K, Buccaneers
Let’s give some credit to where it’s due: yes, Nick Folk did make the game-winning kick for the Bucs on Sunday to help them win 25-23. But the game wouldn’t have come down to that kick if Folk hadn’t made so many errors earlier in the game. The 32-year-old missed a 46-yard field goal early in the second quarter, a 49-yard field goal attempt early in the third quarter, and he missed an extra point in the first quarter. That’s seven points he left on the table that he is expected to convert. “It’s probably the worst you can feel after a game-winner,” Folk said of his feelings following the game.
Many athletes have been doing their part to help raise money for Houston as the city has been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Jason Witten can be added to the list.
The Dallas Cowboys tight end tweeted Tuesday that he is auctioning off his suite for Thursday’s preseason game against the Texans. The proceeds will go to the Houston Area Women’s Center.
Here’s a summary of the item for auction:
Bid to win 12 seats for Thursday night’s game in Jason Witten’s Personal Hall of Fame Suite 217A at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. This package also includes 3 parking passes for the game and a authentic personalized Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys jersey.
Proceeds will benefit Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation’s support of the Houston Area Women’s Center.
The Cowboys have been doing their part to assist the Texans, allowing them to use their facilities this week. Witten is also doing what he can to help out.
Even as his Dallas Cowboys career hung in the balance, Tony Romo was taking a team-first mentality.
Longtime Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Romo’s best friend and favorite target, was particularly impacted by Dak Prescott’s ascension to the top of the depth chart — but it was Romo, he said, who helped keep him focused on the team.
“Tony was the first one to say it to me: ‘Don’t allow my situation to get in the way of what was happening to this football team last year,'” Witten said, via Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram. “As the off-season unfolded and he made the decision to join CBS, there is a day or two where you think, ‘Wow, look how quickly this has gone.’ I always think there is an appreciation of the guys you are able to do it with, and they are going on to new chapters in their life.”
Witten made clear that, though Romo is gone now, he remains firmly committed to the organization and his teammates.
“As I told these guys, I’m all in without restrictions,” Witten said. “Everything I got is into it. I think it would be too selfish if the thought (of retiring) even entered my mind. I know what goes into it. It’s full commitment on my end.”
It is clear that Witten has great love and admiration for Romo, but he’s moving into a new chapter of his career now. The 35-year-old is now the undisputed veteran leader of the Cowboys, and looks ready to rise to the challenge.
Jason Witten thinks his former coach Bill Parcells is getting softer as he ages.
In an interview with the New York Daily News in April following news of Tony Romo’s retirement, Parcells said he was happy that his former quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys retired.
Parcells, who drafted Witten in 2003, also said, “I wish Jason Witten had retired.”
Witten is now 35 and will be playing his 15th season with the Cowboys after signing a new deal with the team in the offseason.
Witten joined the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota and Brandon George on their “Candidly Cowboys” podcast and responded to Parcells.
“Bill has been a great resource for me over the years. I think he’s getting a little soft here in his old age, telling us to retire,” Witten told Machota and George. “I think for him he’s seen what Tony has gone through. Coach has been gone now for over 10 years. I think that’s no different than a family member, somebody you love, you want to see them healthy and move forward. Coach knows I love to play and opportunity and I feel good. He’s certainly a resource for me, a mentor who allowed me to get to this position. I feel confident that I can play and continue to play. For Tony, I know he had some people in his circle that he talked to and valued their opinion and I think coach was one of those guys.”
Witten continues to show on the field that he can still play. The tight end caught 69 passes for 673 yards and three touchdowns last season, which was very close to the numbers he put up the two previous seasons. Witten is probably right that Parcells is looking out for him like a concerned friend or family member. But the future Hall of Famer is still contributing on the field, so why should he retire any time before he needs to.
The Tony Romo-Jason Witten connection has been one of the NFL’s most enduring over the past decade, so it was only fitting that the Dallas Cowboys tight end would pay tribute to his quarterback.
With Romo leaving the NFL to go to the broadcast booth, Witten shared an emotional post on Twitter reminiscing about the pair’s time together in Dallas.
“With 9 as your pilot, you feel as if you can conquer the world,” Witten wrote in one particularly striking passage.
Whatever went down late in Romo’s Cowboys career, it’s clear that Witten’s affection for him has not faded one bit. Given the apparent connection they shared on the field, that’s no surprise, either.
If the contract extension he signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday is any indication, Jason Witten may be planning to play in the NFL as long as Tom Brady.
According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Witten and the Cowboys have agreed to a four-year extension that will keep the tight end under contract with the team through 2021. The new deal includes no additional guaranteed money, but it gives the Cowboys flexibility to free up around $4 million in salary cap space down the road with a restructure.
Witten has started 163 consecutive games in Dallas and is just 17 yards shy of breaking Michael Irvin’s franchise record of 11,904 receiving yards. He turned 34 prior to last season but showed no signs of slowing down, hauling in 69 passes for 673 yards and three scores. Witten has at least 60 catches in every season since his rookie year.
As Ezekiel Elliott could tell you, Witten is one of the most respected locker room leaders in football. Even if his skills start to decline in the next year or two, the Cowboys will likely be happy to keep him around.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten doesn’t sound quite ready to call it a career just yet.
Speaking after his team’s heartbreaking 34-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Witten indicated that, while he’s aware “there’s a shelf life for everybody,” his tentative plan is to return for a 15th NFL season.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Witten said of his future, via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “Every year when I’m empty at this point, it’s just you gave everything you got, and I’ll take time to reflect on it. I love this team and this group of guys and so, yeah, that will be the plan for sure.”
Witten turns 35 in May and is entering the final season of his contract, which means 2017 could be a logical stopping point for him.
The veteran tight end is still playing at a high level, playing in all 16 games and catching three touchdown passes during the regular season. He still seems fully committed to seeing out his career in Dallas. It does sound like there will be a next season for Witten.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has long been one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets and closest allies, and he’s still backing his longtime quarterback to return from injury stronger than ever.
That said, with a possible quarterback controversy looming, Witten is being diplomatic about who will be throwing to him going forward.
“If there’s one guy I wouldn’t bet against, it’s Tony Romo,” Witten told FOX NFL Sunday, via FOX Sports’s Cameron DaSilva. “It was good to have him on the field practicing this week, and I think that shows that’s the next step for him.”
But who will start when Romo is healthy if Dak Prescott is still producing? Witten deferred.
“That’s for a lot of people higher up than me to make those decisions, and I don’t know that anyone knows how this is going to play out,” Witten said. “I think it’s a good problem to have. To see Dak play as well as he is and know that when Tony’s healthy, there are only a few people that are walking on this planet that can play at that level.
“However this plays out, our locker room is so strong and there’s a respect factor understand that there are tough decisions made day in and day out every week. This is a bottom-line decision.”
Much as Witten loves Romo – and the two are definitely close – the reality is that it sounds like Prescott’s job to lose. Romo’s future is unclear.
The Dallas Cowboys were dominant against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and a stiff-arm from Jason Witten was a perfect example of that dominance.
Watch Witten drop the Bengals’ Derron Smith with a great stiffarm:
Don’t go high when you’re looking to bring down that guy.