The Dallas Cowboys lost one of the greatest tight ends of all-time when Jason Witten officially retired this past week, but they lost one of their greatest leaders, too.
Jason Witten was a pillar of excellence within the Cowboys locker room, leading in every conceivable way and then some.
One of the most literal ways we knew that Jason Witten was a leader for Dallas was the captain’s patch that he wore on his chest. He was the captain of all captains (a moment captured on Amazon’s “All or Nothing” by the way). With him gone, who replaces him?
Let’s note that nobody can replace Jason Witten. He’s irreplaceable. We’re simply talking about who will be the sixth captain on the Dallas Cowboys in 2018.
The number of captains is actually something that became a discussion point last season with Dallas. The NFL only allows for six captains, but the Cowboys tried to have seven. Why?
Think back to the 2016 season when Tony Romo was hurt at the beginning of the year. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were rookies. With Romo out when the team selected their captains (September), he was obviously left off of the list. They went with Jason Witten, Travis Frederick (the second on offense with Romo out), Sean Lee, Barry Church, and Dan Bailey. Romo was the would-be sixth when he’d inevitably return (sigh).
Entering 2017 there was no question that Dak Prescott would be a captain, he’s the quarterback after all. The subject of captains and “Garrett guys” has been a popular one this offseason, the captains included Dak, Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford (with Barry Church in Jacksonville), Orlando Scandrick, and Dan Bailey.
These are positions voted on by the team, and Scandrick received enough votes to merit that honor (part of the reason why is also seen in “All or Nothing”). Travis Frederick had been a captain the year before, and it’s understandable that Jason Garrett petitioned for him to be the team’s seventh. The NFL said no, even though the New England Patriots had seven.
Getting back to 2018, the Cowboys have two vacancies in the captain’s room with Orlando Scandrick’s release and Jason Witten’s retirement. I’ve mentioned before that Kavon Frazier should be in consideration for captain’s responsibilities given how active he’s involved in the community, but a new wrinkle has come into play that could be quite telling.
The Cowboys have a leadership council (this part isn’t new and is also represented on AoN), and they recently put forward their names in quite a public fashion. Select members of the Cowboys penned a thank you letter to Jason Witten (you should read it) over at ESPN.com, and it was signed by the council:
- Sean Lee
- Zack Martin
- Dak Prescott
- Tyrone Crawford
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Tyron Smith
- Travis Frederick
- DeMarcus Lawrence
- Jeff Heath
- Cole Beasley
- Dan Bailey
- Byron Jones
The council features four reigning captains for Dallas, and it’s fair to assume that the final two would come from it as well. Who could they be?
Assuming the four captains return that would give the Cowboys one on offense, two on defense, and one on special teams. It stands to reason that Travis Frederick would be made captain once again, leaving a lone “C” to be had.
Byron Jones has been a name that fans have thrown out before, but it’s understandable if you feel that the best player on defense besides Sean Lee should get the nod in DeMarcus Lawrence. Of course, of the list Tyron Smith is the most tenured, but it feels like there’s another name that could surprise.
We make jokes about him being the goat, but doesn’t Jeff Heath kind of feel like a captain? He’s got a proclivity for making big plays in huge moments (there are literally multiple examples at this point), and he’s also a stalwart on special teams. From the mothership back in February:
The former undrafted free agent was promoted in 2017, from special teams ace and spot safety, to starter. Despite the new job description, he didn’t let go of his old duties – and that showed up in his workload. Heath was on the field for 880 defensive snaps this year, leading the defense , and still found the time to play 60 percent of the Cowboys’ special teams snaps.
Considering his special teams usage, Heath as a captain would give the Cowboys two in every phase of the game. That’s a level of equilibrium that makes a lot of sense.
What say you, BTB? Let’s assume Travis Frederick is indeed back as the fifth captain, because that makes sense. Who’s number six?
Who do you see as the sixth Cowboys captain in 2018?
This poll is closed