Just one year removed from retirement, Jason Witten has decided to leave Monday Night Football to do what he was born to do, compete on the gridiron. The future Hall of Famer, second only to Tony Gonzalez in TE receptions and reception yards, will dust off his cleats for at least one more year with America’s Team.
The Dallas Cowboys have released the following statement from Witten, ” The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong. This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt”.
Witten will be 37 when the regular season starts for his 16th season. In 2017, Witten was a Pro Bowl selection with 63 catches for 560 yards and 5 touchdowns, starting all 16 games. His retirement after the season left the Cowboys with a question mark at the tight end position for the first time in 15 years.
The response was a tight end by committee with 4 tight ends, only one of which even had an NFL stat sheet prior to the 2018 season, in Geoff Swaim. All four tight ends (Gathers, Jarwin, Schultz, and Swaim) started at least 4 games in 2018, and combined had only 5 more receptions than Witten in 2017, and one less touchdown. With Geoff Swaim being an unrestricted free agent, and the other 3 salaries combined being less than $2 million for the 2019 season, it seems unlikely to see Swaim back in a Cowboys uniform.
The contract details for Witten have not been released yet, but he qualifies for a very cap friendly figure with veteran minimum benefits. The 2019 veteran minimum salary for players with 10 or more years of service is $1.03 million, with only about $650k of that counting against the cap. It is not known if this is the route that Witten and the Cowboys will go, or if he will be getting paid a salary closer to his $7.4 million salary for 2017. Seeing as he appears to be coming back more for a championship run rather than for money to pay off debts, the former seems much more likely.
Assuming that #82 is healthy and ready for another grueling NFL season, this will make the Cowboys offseason that much easier by being able to focus on other positions in free agency and also with the several looming contract extensions of Lawrence, Jones, Zeke, and Dak. This may also convince Sean Lee to make his 2019 salary more cap friendly for a team desperate for its first Super Bowl in 24 years.
Welcome back 82!
About the AuthorDoctor Matt is 1/2 of the Sports Over Served Podcast and skilled in the art of creative writing (according to his 3rd-grade English teacher). He also says he knows a thing or two about basketball, which qualifies him as our NBA Expert? Don't agree with Matt? Feel free to leave a comment!
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Sports Utopia: 5 Fixes to the NFL ScheduleBy Matt Robinson — 6 years ago
Sports is a way for people to escape everyday life, and immerse themselves into another world. The only problem is that sometimes this other world is not as perfect as it could be. Fixing these issues would create a Sports Utopia we all long for.
The NFL is, arguably, the greatest sports league in the world. However, there are five problems with the NFL schedule, for both the fans, the players and the league itself. This article will improve the experience for all three, so listen up Mr. Goodell.
1. Duration of the Season
The NFL will have a 18 game (20 week) regular season, beginning the Thursday before Labor Day and ending with Super Bowl Sunday the day before President’s Day.
Benefit to Fans: This will get rid of 2 preseason games. The fans hate them, and season ticket holders hate paying full price for two meaningless home games. Now there is only one home preseason game.
Benefit to Players: More rest. This will be apparent with points #3 and #4.
Benefit to NFL: Ratings boost. The NFL will be able to take advantage of 8 federal holidays (which will probably go down to 7 with point #5), instead of just 6. When people have a day off from work, they socialize with friends and family and watch sports.
2. Bye Weeks
Each team will receive 2 bye weeks, one in the first 10 weeks and one in the second 10 weeks. No bye in first 2 weeks or last 2 weeks. Bye weeks must be at least 3 weeks separated from each other (i.e. If there is a bye on week 9, the other bye week would be week 12 or later).
Benefit to Fans: Not a huge benefit here for fans, other than more time for the star players of their teams to recover from injury.
Benefit to Players: More bye weeks = more rest = less injuries or more time to recover from injuries without missing games. Also, more time to spend with their families during the season.
Benefit to NFL: Less games without missing star players.
3. Thursday & International Games
Each team will have a maximum of one Thursday game and one International game, with a bye week coming before either of these games. There will be no Thursday game in weeks 2, 19, or 20. There will also be three other weeks with no Thursday game, two in early November (these two weeks will tie in with point #5), and the Thursday before Christmas (unless that is Christmas Eve, then it will be the week after).
Benefit to Fans: No more crap fest Thursday Night Football games.
Benefit to Players: This will get rid of one of the biggest complaints from players: increased chance of injury from not having proper time to heal after a game, when having to play 4 days later or travel halfway across the world.
Benefit to NFL: No more crap fest Thursday Night Football games. Also, less complaints from the NFLPA.
Playoff games will be on Saturday’s and Sunday’s at 3:00 pm EST and 7:30 pm EST.
Benefit to Fans: West Coast fans do not have to wake up early to watch a 9:00 am playoff game. Fans that go to church on Sundays do not have to decide between skipping church and missing the first half of the early game.
Benefit to Players: Players traveling on West Coast do not have to play a NFL playoff game when their body clock is at 9:00 am. Also, a benefit to the traveling team not having to get up early in the morning.
Benefit to NFL: Ratings boost. The Sunday night game is almost always the highest rated for the week. This gives at least two more games at this time slot.
5. Partnerships with Other Leagues
MLB Partnership: There will be no Thursday night game during the World Series, so long as there is no World Series game on a Sunday (this will take some scheduling help from the MLB).
NBA Partnership: There will be no NFL games on Christmas Day, so long as there is no NBA Game on Christmas Eve, if Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, Monday, Thursday or Saturday. There will be no NFL Pro Bowl or any other event the weekend before the Super Bowl. The NBA can use the weekend before the Super Bowl for NBA All-Star Weekend.
Benefit to Fans: Many NFL fans are also fans of other sports. This allows them not to miss big games that are occurring simultaneously. Also, the Pro Bowl sucks and nobody watches or cares about it.
Benefit to Players: Players will get to spend Christmas Day with their families. Also, the Pro Bowl sucks, and players do not want to participate (37 players declined to participate in the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl). Lastly, many NFL players are fans of other sports, and this will allow them to watch more big games.
Benefit to NFL: Ratings boost. The Sunday Night game between the Cowboys (5-1) and Eagles (4-2) in 2017 had lower ratings that World Series Game 5. The NFL’s premier team playing against a division rival in prime-time should NEVER have lower ratings than anything else on TV. Also, no need to compete with the NBA on Christmas Day, if it happens to fall on a Sunday. Just play those games on Saturday for Christmas Eve. Lastly, the Pro Bowl sucks and the NFL is trying to get rid of it anyway. This may create some type of mashup, in which NFL Pro Bowl players can maybe have an event at the NBA All Star Weekend.Views: 0
TRADE DEADLINE ALERT: 7-1 Eagles May Have Got Even StrongerBy Matt Robinson — 6 years ago
While the Cowboys running game got weakened for the next 6 weeks with the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott to be enforced starting week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles have traded away a future 4th round pick to the Miami Dolphins in return for Pro Bowl running back, Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi is in his 3rd year out of Boise State, and experienced a breakout season in 2016 with over 1,200 yards rushing. This was noted by three 200+ yard games, two of which were back to back. Ajayi, 13th leading rusher in the NFL, will most likely split carries with current starter LaGarrette Blount, who is 11th. This will definitely help an Eagles running attack, which is 5th in the league in rushing yards per game, who lost All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters for the season.
Ajayi will make the Cowboys life even tougher on November 19, when they host the Eagles at AT&T Stadium. The defense gives up 4.5 yards per attempt, which is 24th in the NFL.Views: 1
BREAKING NEWS: It’s always been Romo’s teamBy Kevin Jones — 7 years ago
AMERICA’S TEAM AGAIN
This has been a very exciting year for Cowboy Nation. The Cowboys are 5-1 on the season, the offense is humming along like a well-oiled machine, and surprisingly, the make-shift defense hasn’t been too shabby either. “America’s Team” appears to be well on their way to actually earning the nickname after decades of habitual disappointment.
But what has been the root of their success? Well, unless you’re oblivious to all social media, it’s pretty clear that the bulk of the fan base gives credit to Dak Prescott for the Cowboys’ miraculous resurrection – which is not unwarranted. Dak has emerged as the clear future of the Dallas Cowboys, touting a passer rating of 103.9 with 1,486 yards and 7 touchdowns. What’s more impressive is that he takes care of the football, with only 1 interception (albeit 4 fumbles) through 6 games. He’s clearly a guy with a knack for managing football games and piling up the W’s, which is why football pundits and arm-chair quarterbacks across the nation are screaming at the top of their lungs: “Do NOT sideline the Dak-Attack for old-man-Romo!”
It didn’t take long for a majority of the football “experts” to abandon Tony at the train station and load up on the Dak-Express. Troy Aikman, Steven A. Smith, Phil Simms, Skip Bayless and even Brett Favre are all in favor of Romo donning a headset for the remainder of the year (just to name a few examples). But the sports-media giants are not the only publications chiming in on the debate… With the controversy garnishing nationwide attention, even publications like The Wall Street Journal have tried to capitalize on the hysteria by throwing their opinion into the mix.
WARNING: At this point in the article, I need to ask everyone to take a minute to relax and search for that happy, zen-like place in your mind. Why do we need to relax, you ask? Great question – thanks for asking! It’s because I’m about to step away from the Dak-mania crowd and go full Romo-sexual, which apparently is a very unpopular thing to do. According to recent polls, 78.35% of you have either 1) Renamed your dog (or son) after Dak Prescott, 2) Stopped listening to Carrie Underwood because she once dated Romo, or 3) Re-purposed your Romo jersey as floor mop – But please folks, try to remain calm. We’ve got some important facts to discuss…
Well guess what? The majority of the pundits are simply dead-wrong. Yes, that’s right – I’m talking like forecast from The Weather Channel kind-of-wrong. I mean, Skip Bayless once claimed Tim Tebow was going to take the Jets to a Super Bowl! Are you kidding me?
The problem is most sports commentators, much like stock market analysts, don’t really aim to be “right”. They only try to make the safest bet and avoid being “wrong”. For example, in early 2007, Blackberry, Ltd. was plowing through the competition in the telecommunications industry. The success of the Blackberry cell phone had led the company stock price from $2.00 in 2002 to $230 in 2007. Market analysts at the time declared the company was unstoppable and encouraged investors to continue “riding the wave”. Well, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen a Blackberry in quite some time. Of course, Apple, Inc. released the iPhone in 2007 and quickly brushed Blackberry aside as they gained the bulk share of the cell phone industry. The analysts had been short-sighted and encouraged investors into what appeared to be the safe-bet due to the recent success of the stock. Hopefully you see where I am going with this. To be clear, I’m not saying that Dak is about to fall off into oblivion as Blackberry did – We’ve certainly found the future face of the franchise with Dak. I’m just pointing out that pundits and analysts are notoriously sheepish, and that the ability of the competition should be considered whether you’re making investment decisions or deciding which quarterback to start.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’ve got some real juevos, shares of Blackberry, Ltd. can currently be swiped up at the low, low price of around $7.00 a share…
Few people realize or give any credit to Tony’s actual accomplishments. In our “what have you done for me lately” society, fans and critics alike seem to dismiss his top-tier ability because he hasn’t been able to lead the Cowboys to new championships. But the stats can’t be ignored or pushed aside. When it comes to passer rating, Tony Romo comes in at 3rd on the list (All-Time). Yup, that’s 3rd in the entire history of the NFL, not just among active QB’s. Just to list a few names who fall below Tony: Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Ben Rothlisberger, etc, etc…
I can already hear the Romo-Haters now: “Oh wow [sarcasm], he’s 3rd all-time in passer rating, but Romo can’t seem to close out games, that’s why he’s a loser!” Well, the haters are incorrect once again because our boy Tony happens to hold the 2nd highest 4th Quarter Passer Rating OF ALL TIME. Again, that’s an all-time stat (see above list for QB’s who fall below him).
To be honest, Romo has significant standing in practically every major category of the all-time stats, but he never gets credit for his entire body of work – only the memorable losses seem to come to the minds of the pundits when they form their opinions.
2014 RING A BELL?
Probably one of the most over-looked reasons for starting Romo when he is fully healthy is due to the success the Cowboys had in 2014. With DeMarco Murray in 2014, the Cowboys were able to bruise their way into leading the league in time of possession (54.69%), which kept the mediocre defense off the field as much as possible. In 2016, the Cowboys have looked very similar with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, coming in at 2nd in the league in TOP (55%). This not only limits the vulnerability of our defense, but it significantly opens up the down-field passing game for the quarterback. Dak Prescott has been the biggest benefactor of this, and I firmly believe it’s one of the main reasons that he’s had success this year.
But Tony Romo has more capability to push the ball down-field in the passing game than Dak Prescott does. If there has been any “flaw” in Dak’s performances this year, it’s that he has preferred to check down to the third and fourth pass options and hasn’t really challenged the defensive backs that he’s faced. Dak may have gotten away with this during the first 6 games, but we’ve played some very mediocre teams with a 17-24 combined record – he won’t get away with that kind of strategy down the stretch or in the playoffs. With Romo at QB, he’d be able to stretch the defense down field which would create gaping holes more frequently for the run game. He did it in 2014 for DeMarco and he’ll do it again for Zeke, if afforded the opportunity.
Admittedly, Romo’s early playoff resume doesn’t exactly impress. As a matter of fact, one of the most common arguments I hear from Romo-haters is that “Tony is a choke-artist in the playoffs.” The “choke-artist” label for Romo first surfaced after he botched the snap on a game-winning field goal during the 2006 playoffs against the Seahawks. I can understand why this debacle would be permanently ingrained into the minds of the fan-base, and the Cowboys’ successive playoff appearances in ’07 and ’09 did little to restore his image either, but he certainly can’t shoulder all of the blame. The 2014 playoffs, however, are a much different story.
Every time I hear someone accuse Romo for the Cowboys’ quick exit from the 2014 playoffs, I have to question their knowledge of the game. After leading the ‘Boys to yet another 4th quarter comeback win against the Lions in the NFC Wildcard game, Romo was brilliant again against the Packers. He may have only thrown 19 passes, but he connected on 15 of them for 191 yards, 2 touchdowns and a Passer Rating of 143.6 (which is the 25th best PR in playoff history). Many will remember the game as the “Dez Bryant Catch/No-Catch” game, but the truth is, if DeMarco Murray had never fumbled in the 3rd quarter (leading to a Packers’ FG), or if the Dan Bailey field goal at the end of the 2nd quarter wasn’t blocked, the “Dez Bryant Catch/No-Catch” would have never even happened. Instead of going for it on that 4th and 2, the Cowboys would have just kicked a field goal for the win.
I understand that toying with the starting quarterback of a 5-1 (potentially 6-1) team is a scary proposition for any NFL fan base, but with how the league is shaping up this year, the Cowboys have a very real opportunity to make a deep run in the playoffs and contend for their sixth Super Bowl ring. Dak has been outstanding, and he’s certainly solidified his role as the future of the franchise, but let’s not lose sight of the forest through the trees. This IS and ALWAYS HAS BEEN Tony Romo’s team.Views: 0