There are a lot of huge questions hovering over the Dallas Cowboys and a few months from now a lot of them will have answers. One would have to imagine that we would know Jason Witten’s future by then.
For now, Gold Jacket Witt rests in limbo (Dak Prescott’s contractual situation is also there, ditto Amari Cooper and Byron Jones). Much of his future seemingly rested on his own shoulders as he had to decide whether he wanted to give his return from retirement a second season. It appears as if he’s made his choice.
Jason Witten wants to play football in 2020, and he wants it to be with the Cowboys
Speaking to reporters on Monday night, Witten expressed that he wants his football future - as in he wants there to be one first of all - to be with the Dallas Cowboys. That makes sense.
Witten has been a part of the Cowboys since the team drafted him in 2003. While he spent the 2018 season away from America’s Team in the Monday Night Football booth, playing somewhere else - as his former employer speculated - would probably feel awkward.
Jason Witten says he's not naive about the business side of the NFL and that he could be on another team in 2020. pic.twitter.com/3WzDZ8eHpB— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) February 19, 2020
Jason Witten on being open to playing with another team: “I think I have to be. Obviously that’s not ideal. I would love to finish it out here. ... It’s a good young group of tight ends. I think I can help them in a lot of ways.” pic.twitter.com/d50Yd1lm0S— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) February 19, 2020
“I have been in constant communication with Stephen and Jerry along the way. I think it’s my hope, I think it’s our hope, to kind of have those talks very soon after the combine ends and before free agency. I want to play. I think I want to explore that. I think it’s the right fit and the role and like I said, I think I have something to give. I think coaching is in the future but right now I want to play while I can so we will see where that takes place. Course, I want that to be with the Dallas Cowboys. I will always be a Dallas Cowboy but I do understand with all the changes that might mean that I will have to go somewhere else.”
Witten is doing and saying all of the right things this time of year, but he also still seems to be in a pondering sort of place. He said that he “thinks” he wants to explore the idea of playing, maybe it was just his verbiage or maybe he truly does only think it, but it would have to be difficult for a coach to trust something like that.
Maybe Mike McCarthy is feeling a different way, though. We simply do not know. What we do know, though, is that apparently when Witten first met with McCarthy, he had not decided that he wanted to play in 2020. Now he obviously has.
What the Greg Olsen deal could say about a future Witten contract.
The Seattle Seahawks believe that Greg Olsen is still a capable tight end. That much is obvious by them signing him on Tuesday.
It’s not like Seattle broke the bank to bring in Olsen but they gave him a deal worth more than the Cowboys gave Witten a season ago. Olsen’s deal with Seattle is for one year and is worth $7M with $5.5M guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Former Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen is signing a one-year, $7 million deal that includes $5.5M gtd with the Seahawks, per source. Olsen visited and negotiated with Buffalo, Seattle and Washington but felt most comfortable with the Seahawks.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2020
While Witten’s deal was initially reported in a variety of ways last season, OverTheCap ultimately listed him as a $4.25M cap hit against the team in 2019. However you slice it, even with a bit of roster bonuses, Olsen’s deal still easily trumps that.
Comparing the two tight ends for discussion’s sake, they were very close from a production standpoint last season.
- 2019 Jason Witten: 16 games, 63 receptions, 529 yards, 4 touchdowns
- 2019 Greg Olsen: 14 games, 52 receptions, 597 yards, 2 touchdowns
Olsen played for the Carolina Panthers last season and hardly got to play with quarterback Cam Newton so his performance must be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously the Cowboys had Dak Prescott for all of their season and saw him experience a lot of career highs, in spite of that Witten only just out-performed Olsen in touchdowns and even trailed him in yards despite playing in two more games.
While Olsen is three years removed from elite production, he’s been injured, he’s still closer to it from a time standpoint than Witten is. It’s fair for him to make more than Witten, but oftentimes the world of contract negotiations isn’t about what’s “fair.”
It feels safe to say that Jason Witten won’t match or top Greg Olsen’s contract offer wherever he does ultimately play if he does at all in 2020 (keep an eye on the other two teams that were interested in Olsen if Witten doesn’t return to the Cowboys, the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills). Then there is always the New York Giants and Jason Garrett if the Cowboys don’t re-sign Witten.
It seems as if Witten’s future could be decided following the NFL Scouting Combine which isn’t too far away. The proverbial ball is now in the organization’s court.
Do you want to see Jason Witten return to the Cowboys?
This poll is closed
Yes: No matter what
Yes: Has to be a low contract
No: No matter what