Jason Witten will continue his playing career next season, but it will not be with the Dallas Cowboys.
Witten has signed a one-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders that will allow him to earn up to $4.75 million, ESPN’s Todd Archer reports.
Witten, who is 37, said recently that he wants to keep playing and is open to doing so for another team. It became clear Dallas was moving on from him when they placed a second-round restricted free agent tender on tight end Blake Jarwin, whom they then signed to a three-year extension this week.
Despite his age and the fact that he took a year off to work as a broadcaster for ESPN in 2018, Witten still had 63 catches for 529 yards last season. He’ll have to compete with Darren Waller for targets, but Jon Gruden should be able to find a role for Witten in the Raiders’ offense.
The Dallas Cowboys are expected to place a second-round restricted free agent tender on tight end Blake Jarwin, and that could mean the end of Jason Witten’s tenure with the team.
The Cowboys are planning to use the high-value tender on Jarwin, which will make his salary a projected $3.3 million next season and make it so any team that wanted to sign the free agent would have to give up a second-round pick. Patrik Walker of CBS Sports reports that the Cowboys are actually planning to sign Jarwin to a long-term deal, and their desire to make him their No. 1 tight end is the main reason they have not made an enticing offer to Witten.
As Evan Silva of Establish the Run notes, Jarwin showed flashes last season of being able to play a significant role in the passing game.
Lots of offseason left but #Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin early candidate for big 2020 role increase:
* Jason Witten is FA
* Jarwin slated for 2nd-round RFA tender
* 7th among 39 TEs in yards/route run in '19 (@PFF)
* 6th among 35 TEs in yards/target
* Blocking could be big obstacle
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 2, 2020
Jarwin caught just 31 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns in 2019, which was lower production than Witten across the board. However, it seems clear that the Cowboys believe he could do more than Witten if given the same opportunities going forward.
Jerry Jones recently hinted that he wants Witten to return next season, but that could be more about the relationship the veteran has with the organization. All signs point to Jarwin taking over as the team’s top tight end.
Jason Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys last season after briefly exploring a career in the broadcast booth, and the veteran tight end proved he can be more than just an important voice in the locker room. Although the Cowboys have undergone some big changes this offseason, Jerry Jones says he wants Witten back.
Jones said this week that he would not want to see Witten in anything but a Dallas uniform, and he believes the 37-year-old still has plenty to offer.
Jerry Jones wants Jason Witten back: “I would hope that he would not ever be anything but a Cowboy. I do think he can play. I think he can make a real contribution to the Cowboys.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) February 27, 2020
Witten’s future in Dallas is up in the air, as he will soon become a free agent and Mike McCarthy has taken over as the team’s head coach. That said, Witten is known for his leadership ability and caught 63 passes for 529 yards and four touchdowns. He’s still a valuable safety net for Dak Prescott and a big presence in the locker room.
Witten has said he intends to play in 2020 and wants to remain with the Cowboys, but he is open to playing elsewhere if they don’t want him back.
Jason Witten wants to keep playing and is open to joining a new team.
The 37-year-old tight end was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003 and has played his entire 16-season career with them. He retired for the 2018 season and served as a broadcaster on “Monday Night Football,” but that did not go well, and he returned to the gridiron last season.
The Cowboys are undergoing a big change with Jason Garrett gone and Mike McCarthy as the new head coach. Witten had a previous relationship with Garrett that may have made it easy for him to return, but his future with the Cowboys is much less certain now.
Witten spoke to some reporters on Tuesday at the Jason Witten College Man of the Year Award gathering and talked about his future.
“I think I have to be (open to joining another team),” Witten said via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Obviously that’s not ideal. I would love to finish it out here. Coaching is in my future, but right now, I want to play while I can. We’ll see where that takes place. Of course, I want that to be with the Dallas Cowboys. I’ll always be a Dallas Cowboy. But I also understand that, with all the changes, I may have to go somewhere else.”
Last month, a report said Witten would have interest in joining the Giants, where Garrett is now the offensive coordinator.
Even at 37, Witten still had 63 catches for 529 yards last season.
- Jason Witten
Could we see Jason Witten play in the NFL for a team other than the Dallas Cowboys?
The veteran tight end has not ruled out playing in 2020, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN. However, Witten’s role in new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy’s offense may be nonexistent, meaning he might have to look elsewhere if he wants to keep playing.
Mortensen suggests that one possible landing spot for Witten could be New York. The Giants just named Jason Garrett offensive coordinator, and Mortensen left the door open to the possibility that Garrett might bring his longtime tight end with him.
Witten could bring a veteran presence to a young locker room like @Giants, familiarity with Garrett's offense and a support role to some promising young tight ends. That said, nothing close to being settled on future. https://t.co/4O9sotZFlJ
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 19, 2020
Witten’s on-field contributions are more limited these days. He caught only 63 passes in 2019, and his 529 receiving yards were his lowest total since his rookie season. He still contributed four touchdowns.
Evan Engram would still get the lion’s share of work at the tight end position, but there may be some feeling that Witten could be a valuable mentor in Garrett’s offense. Of course, the 37-year-old will want to be more than a mentor, too.
Nobody with the Dallas Cowboys could have been satisfied with the way Thursday night’s game went.
The Cowboys scored on their first possession, intercepted the Bears after that, but then it was all downhill. The team allowed 24 unanswered points while going 3-and-out four times.
Jason Witten was shown by FOX all fired up on the sideline while the team was struggling:
Jason Witten is not happy pic.twitter.com/Mqq9XhCkny
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 6, 2019
Witten had five catches for 37 yards and did not leave the “Monday Night Football” booth for this!
Once 5-3, Dallas has now gone 1-4 over its last five games. And yet they’re still favored to make the playoffs thanks to the terrible NFC East.
- Jason Witten
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones essentially blasted the team’s coaches after Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots, but it doesn’t sound like it’s having any impact on the players.
Jones said after Sunday’s loss that the coaching had not been good enough, and that he “shouldn’t be this frustrated” considering the “makeup” of the team. Longtime Cowboy Jason Witten, who has been associated with the organization since 2003, essentially backed Jones’ assertions.
“Passion, emotion, the energy he brings, that is Line 1 for Mr. Jones, I feel like from my perspective,” Witten said Tuesday, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “He wants to win. He expects to win. He feels like he’s put a great team together, which he has, and we haven’t played to our expectations of where we should be. That’s completely fair. I think it’s just the raw emotion of it all. He’s been around a lot of great football and knows what he wants it to look like.”
The Cowboys are 6-5 and only hold down a playoff spot at the moment because they lead a mediocre NFC East. Jones, who has a Super Bowl or bust mentality, is understandably furious. That has lame duck coach Jason Garrett coaching for his job. The criticism might put the players in a tough spot, since they’ll be directly asked about criticism of their coaches from the top, but Witten is diplomatic while admitting that the Cowboys just haven’t been good enough.