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.
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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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By Matt Robinson — 4 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
By Phillip Montes — 4 years ago
When Romo went down in Seattle, I honestly thought his career was going to end essentially where it began (The Bobble). He eventually got up and walked off of the field, but the damage was done to his back. Romo is going to miss at least the first month of football, but will the Cowboys’ fate change while Dak has control of the ship? I don’t think so. With Romo, I had the Cowboys starting 3-3 in the first six weeks and making a strong push at the end of the year to finish around 10-6 or even 11-5. That hasn’t changed, and here’s why.
1. In September, Dak needs to play slightly below the level he played in the preseason. I know I know, it’s the “Preseason”, but look around the league and see how well other rookie quarterbacks played in the “Preseason”. It’s not even close. Goff (LA), Wentz (Phi), Lynch (Den), Hackenberg (NYJ), Brissett (NE), Kessler (Cle), and Cook (Oak) were all drafted ahead of Dak. If these seven teams could get a mulligan, how many would draft Dak after the “Preseason”? My gut tells me six of these teams would take Dak right now, and I’m not so sure that number isn’t seven. The Cowboys got very lucky to grab Dak with the 135th pick of the draft. They were also fortunate Kellen Moore was injured to allow Dak more reps in training camp and the preseason. Is he going to struggle in his first month of the season? Absolutely, but he will still manage to keep the offense productive and the Cowboys heads above water.
2. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in football, and probably the deepest group of running backs in the league. What else could a young quarterback ask for? Let’s see, maybe a Hall of Fame tight end as a security blanket, and throw in an All-Pro receiver while you’re at it. Dak will have advantages that almost no rookie quarterback in recent memory has been afforded. This is a dream supporting cast, and almost too good to fail. To be successful, Dak will need to be slightly more active than your average bus-driving quarterback, which his raw talent will allow him to do.
3. This defense isn’t as bad as we all thought it was going to be a few months ago. We shouldn’t be surprised Marinelli pulled another rabbit out of his hat with this group. In the preseason, this defense showed itself to be very capable of being a middle of the pack defense. In the combined four quarters played by the starters, they only allowed 17 points. Is it the next generation Doomsday D? Not even close, but this defense will be good enough to allow our offense to control the game and
win fifty percent of our first few games.
Dak has the tools and supporting cast to be successful while Romo recovers from his recent back injury. It takes defenses 4-6 weeks of game film to understand a quarterback’s tendencies, and Romo may return before defensive coordinators have time to do so with Dak. Dak may not be ready to take the Cowboys deep into the playoffs this year, but we may not need him to this year. After its all said and done, Romo’s injury may have allowed the Cowboys to have their cake and eat it too. Dak develops in his rookie year and gains valuable experience, and Romo rides in on his white horse and leads the Cowboys BACK to playoffs. Don’t panic just yet, this injury may be a blessing in disguise.Views: 0
By Matt Robinson — 4 years ago
The 2017 NFL draft is over, and it was actually one of the more exciting drafts in recent history. From several 1st round trades for quarterbacks to the best pre-selection speech ever given, by Drew Pearson. The season doesn’t start for four months, and we have to fill the football void in our lives somehow, so let’s dive into the Cowboys first 5 picks…
Round 1, Pick 28: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Taco is a 6’6″, 277 lb defensive end, that had a decent junior season, and a good senior season. His combine numbers did not overly impress anyone, but his size did, and you can’t teach size. Taco has the God-given gifts to play in the NFL, but will need to work on his strength and quickness to become an impact player.
The 40-yard dash is not as great an indicator for a defensive lineman, but his 10 yard split was more telling than his complete 40. as the 3 cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Taco performed in the top 15 in both the 3 cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle for defensive linemen. The bench press doesn’t tell the whole story of strength for an NFL player, but Taco will definitely need to hit the weight room to make sure he does not get manhandled by NFL tackles.
The Cowboys needed a pass rush, considering they have been without one since 2014 when Demarcus Ware left for Denver. Taco will be able to control his own destiny with the Cowboys’ pass rush positions wide open due to inconsistent play and substance abuse issues. Some may have questioned taking Taco this high, but he was on draft boards anywhere from mid-1st to mid-2nd round, and the defensive back depth in this draft was much greater than the defensive line depth. Taco’s NFL career will be determined by how motivated he is to be great. Hard work should get him to the Pro Bowl, while apathy will have him frustrating teams and coaches alike.
Round 2, Pick 60: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Many analysts and Cowboys fans had their eyes on Kevin King or Sidney Jones in the 1st round for the Cowboys, but the Jones’ preferred the value of Chidobe Awuzie in the 2nd round. He has good size, and great speed. Back-to-back All Pac-12 teams, a nose for the football, and not being afraid to step up and put a hit on a runner makes it appear as if the Cowboys made the right choice in waiting.
At 6’0″ with a 4.43 40 time, and a 34.5″ vertical, Chidobe should be able to matchup with almost any receiver in the league athletically. He played more inside corner at the nickel position in college, but will need to learn to play outside as well. Awuzie’s willingness to deliver a hit will do well with Marinelli’s DB blitzes. While Chidobe can lay the smackdown every once in a while, he will need to learn to wrap up, since most NFL ball carriers know how to break away from lazy arm tackles he has been known to resort to at times.
The lack of depth in the Cowboys’ secondary will give fans the ability to see what Chidobe can do very early on. Week 1 will be a big test with the New York Giants and their talented receiving crew coming to Jerry’s World week 1.
Round 3, Pick 92: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Lewis was one of the best cover corners in the NCAA for the past two years, but his size may present an issue at the next level. Cornerbacks that are under 6 feet usually find themselves as career nickelbacks. However, this was a great value pick, since Lewis was passed over by many teams in the third round, most likely due to his pending domestic violence issue.
Jourdan is a physical corner, especially in the first five yards not letting receivers get a clean break. This skill will prove to be very important in the NFL, especially considering Lewis does not have great speed (4.54 40) at the cornerback position. He could prove to be very valuable to the Cowboys since they are often burned by good route-running receivers. Jourdan Lewis is eerily similar to former Cowboy, Pacman Jones. Let’s just hope these similarities end once he steps off the field.
Round 4, Pick 133: Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina
This pick was somewhat confusing, considering this was not a big need for the Cowboys, and Switzer was probably not this high on anyone’s draft board. Switzer believes he is the best returner in the draft, which would fill another void the Cowboys have had for the past two seasons, when Dwayne Harris bolted for New York.
Switzer’s quickness was on display at the combine with the fastest 20 yard shuttle and the 2nd fastest 60 yard shuttle for wide receivers (3rd fastest overall in both). At 5’8″, one can assume that the Cowboys may be looking for a replacement for slot receiver Cole Beasley, who has 2 years left on his current contract and only a $1 million cap hit with a trade or release before the 2018 season.
Not too sure about the value of this pick, since these type of players may be dime a dozen, but only time will tell. Switzer will most likely only see playing time as a returner in his rookie season.
Round 6, Pick 191: Xavier Woods, S, Lousiana Tech
The Cowboys traded their 2018 5th round pick to grab what looks to be the best value pick of the draft for Dallas. This is another player with good quickness, that was displayed in both combine shuttle drills, as well as the 3 cone drill. Woods is a big hitting safety that can also track the football in the air to break up and intercept deep balls (5 INTs his senior year).
He does give off the look of former Denver Broncos safety, Steve Atwater, who could both cover in the pass and deliver bone-jarring hits on even the biggest of running backs. Unfortunately, sometimes the need to get a big hit got the best of Atwater, but Xavier seems very focused on disrupting passing lanes.
Woods is somewhat undersized at 5’11” at the safety position, but everything else points to him being the Cowboys’ “steal” of the 2017 draft. Also, with Barry Church and JJ Wilcox saying goodbye to Dallas this off-season, Xavier Woods could see the field more often than most 6th round picks do in their rookie season.
The rest of the picks were as follows:
Round 6, Pick 216: Marquez White, CB, Florida State
Round 7, Pick 228: Joey Ivie, DT, Florida
Round 7, Pick 239: Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State
Round 7, Pick 246: Jordan Carrell, DT, ColoradoViews: 0