While this move was hailed as potentially freeing up cap space for this year, extending Witten at $7.4 million per season is paying him more as a thank you or for his off-field leadership than being representative of his true production at this stage of his long career.
Witten signed a four-year extension through 2021 on Tuesday, the club announced.
The deal maxes out at $29.6 million, according to sources. It does not include more guaranteed money but gives both sides peace of mind knowing where Dallas' longtime tight end will play beyond this season.
There is no question that Witten carries himself as the consummate professional.
Almost every time Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talks about tight end Jason Witten, the message is the same.
"He's as professional a person, as professional a player as I've ever been around," Garrett said last season. "His commitment to doing things the right way, his commitment to excellence is unmatched. Again, it's beyond just a day, it's everything he does within that day."
The Cowboys may need to restructure Witten's salary, as they just lost $2.5 million off their cap this year from a "loan" they took back in 2011.
It all stems from reconciliation of a cap space loan the team took out in the offseason of 2011. At the time, the NFL allowed teams the option of taking a maximum $3M advance that could be used towards the 2011 cap -- with an additional max of $1.5M towards 2012.
In addition to extending Jason Witten, the Cowboys made sure their three main coordinators were extended. This includes Coach Bisaccia too.
Linehan has been instrumental in turning the Cowboys’ offense into a lethal dose of poison for most defensive coordinators to handle. The Cowboys’ offense had the league’s leading rusher twice in the last three seasons under Linehan. In 2016, the Cowboys’ offense ranked fifth in points per game, fifth in yards per game, and second in rushing yards per game. Overall, Linehan helped the Cowboys rank fifth overall in total offense.
Mr. Sisemore has been touting the overhaul of the Cowboys secondary, and none other than Stephen Jones has made it clear that is the Cowboys' plan. As I argued elsewhere, it may be necessary, but it's risky, as there's no certainty the Cowboys defense will be better for it in 2017.
"We are not going to get any better on defense if we just keep paying the guys we got," Jones said. "What we have to do better on defense is we have to get pressure on the passer. And we have to make plays on the ball. We have to do that better."
The Dallas Morning News had their own take on this story with additional quotes from Stephen Jones.
"Obviously to no fault of anybody, we've committed a lot of our resources on our football team to the offense -- between the offensive line, the running back, quarterback position, receiver -- not only in terms of bucks but also in terms of draft picks. So what we're wanting to do is change that now. Our goal going into the draft is not to be tunnel-vision defense, but we really think we can improve and take the next step on defense if we can utilize our picks wisely and improve the defensive side of the football. At the same time, we're not going to be tunnel-vision and not opposed either if the right guy on offense just happens to fall into your lap and it's too good be true."
Is Jeff Heath part of the answer? He does appear to be the only Dallas safety who can arrive at the ball at the same time as the pass.
"You saw him play," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix.
"He made what normally would have been the game-winning play if we don’t have a tough call, and that comes with our game. He had a huge sack in the game. He theoretically had two picks. He was making plays. I think if you turn on the tape and watch that, there are a lot of people who wonder why isn’t that guy starting, you know, in terms of making plays on the ball and that type of thing.’"
Can the Cowboys replenish their secondary when Barnwell ranks them 29th in draft capital? Maybe this is why the Cowboys are looking more and more like they are willing to play hardball to get something back for Tony Romo.
Original adjusted capital: 38.4 points
Actual capital: 31.7 points (minus-17.5 percent)
The Cowboys are plenty happy with their situation after finding Dak Prescott in the fourth round of last year's draft. They'll feel the effects of their previous attempt to find a replacement for the injured Tony Romo this year, though, having dealt their 2017 fifth-round pick to the Bills for a 2017 seventh-rounder and Matt Cassel in a trade that seems like it took place decades ago. The Cowboys are also one of the 16 teams in the NFL to not be awarded a compensatory pick from last year's offseason activity, which accounts for the remainder of their drop-off.
The teams signing Dallas's departed defensive backs seem very pleased with the level of players they acquired. While some have called them JAGs, their new coaches beg to differ.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on Carr:
"This guy can cover people. He gets up in press. He gets his hands on people and he covers people in critical situations. That’s what I liked the best. I think he’s smart. He does a solid job in run support, but he knows how to play all the coverages."
The free agent departures doesn't seem to have hurt Dallas in the power rankings, for whatever that's worth.
That being said, the Dallas Cowboys checked in at No. 4 in the post-free agency rankings by ESPN, which is from a collection of 80 writers, editors and TV personalities, down one spot from the way-too-early rankings conducted after Super Bowl LI.
With some of the alarm coming from a free agency run that has seen the Cowboys lose a sizable amount of defensive snaps with the departures of Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Terrell McClain, Jack Crawford, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox and only add one defender, Nolan Carroll, that can be considered a starter, it is interesting to note that the ESPN cognoscenti remains high enough on the Cowboys to keep them at No. 4 overall.
ESPN cognoscenti?? With due respect to Todd Archer, isn't that an oxymoron?
La Canfora takes a detailed look at the Romo situation and offers this piece of salient advice to Cowboys fans confused about the many recent Romo headlines.
Also, as a PSA: Don’t get caught up in any of the faux drama being floated about Romo vs. Prescott or any such nonsense. It’s a business, and Romo knows as much, and this is an ownership decision. He has many, many friends for life in that Cowboys locker room and frankly he has been vacationing and out of town with his family for much of the month. If that makes him “distant” or whatever, so be it, I suppose. But this is out of Romo’s hands too, and, yes, broadcasting is certainly in his future at some point, but I would put it at least at 70/30 he plays football this season and the Texans really are a perfect fit.
Hopefully this will bring more consistency to the replay reviews, but we'll have to see.
Most notable Tuesday was the change in handling officiating of video replays. Referees will now watch replays on the field using tablets, eliminating "going under the hood" to the watch on television monitors.
Meanwhile, league officiating chief Dean Blandino and his staff in New York will make the final decisions on those calls, with input from the referee, who in the past was the ultimate arbiter.
Finally, my favorite clip of the day! It's a little bag of highlights put together by my 14-year-old son, for which he received school credit. You'll have to click over to YouTube to see it.