While most of the Cowboys-related content from Monday rightly focused on Dak Prescott’s franchise tag and Amari Cooper entering free agency, Dallas made an underrated move in signing Blake Jarwin to a three-year extension that could be worth up to $24.25 million. As a restricted free agent, Jarwin had already been tendered and was slated to return in 2020 on a one-year deal; this extension simply adds on to that, effectively guaranteeing Jarwin will be around for the next four seasons.
Important note re: Blake Jarwin.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) March 16, 2020
It's a 3-year extension but a 4-year deal. I assume because, theoretically, the club had control of him as an RFA in 2020, anyway.
So that brings the numbers down a little bit.
Certainly looks like Blake is primed for a starter-type role.
This deal has the feeling of the Cowboys designating Jarwin as their starting tight end going forward. That’s music to the ears of many who called for Jarwin to gain a more prominent role during the 2019 season.
It’s also a big move for the Cowboys offense in 2020, especially with Cooper in an uncertain situation. Jarwin flashed a promising chemistry with Prescott in 2019, catching 31 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns. His athleticism and soft hands made him a threat in both short-yardage situations on play-action rollouts and running down the seam on deeper pass plays.
Yet, Jarwin was ultimately limited by the coaching staff’s insistence on giving more snaps to Jason Witten, who had 83 targets in 2019. If Jarwin’s stats are extrapolated to 83 targets, then he would have had 63 catches for 743 yards and six touchdowns. All of that equates to significantly more production than Witten had.
So Jarwin obviously stands to gain a lot from the likely scenario in which he sees a lion’s share of both snaps and targets, but it also helps that he’s a great fit for both Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore.
For McCarthy, his offenses in Green Bay have frequently favored more athletic, pass-catching tight ends. Jermichael Finley was a fixture of the Packers offense for five years, during which time he tallied 217 catches for 2,711 yards and 19 touchdowns; that was with two seasons shortened by injury, including one that ultimately ended his career.
Finley was never a George Kittle type of tight end, where the passing game revolved almost solely around him; with receivers like Donald Driver and Greg Jennings in town, it never had to be, but Finley was always effective and productive in McCarthy’s offense. He was a reliable threat whenever the Packers’ top receivers weren’t open or able to produce much, and his athletic abilities gave him an edge against the linebackers who usually covered him.
When Finley was forced to retire, McCarthy had a few one-year wonders at the position in Richard Rodgers, Jared Cook, and Jimmy Graham. Rodgers, in 2015, finished second on the team with 510 yards and a whopping eight touchdowns. Cowboys fans obviously don’t need to be reminded of how good Cook was for the 2016 Packers. And Graham put up 636 yards in 2017, although it was overshadowed by memories of what the star tight end once was.
The point is McCarthy has a history of utilizing athletic tight ends very well in the passing game. Moore, on the other hand, comes from an offensive philosophy (Boise State) that seeks to use the tight end in a variety of ways. In the past, this has included lining up tight ends out wide, as well as running the ball in their hands on jet sweeps. Moore couldn’t really do a lot of that with Witten in 2019, but with the speed and quickness of Jarwin he’ll be able to get more creative on that end.
Between McCarthy and Moore, the ways in which the tight end position gets used should see a pretty drastic change this year. Jarwin, of course, stands to benefit greatly from it, and whether or not Cooper remains in Dallas it should ensure Jarwin becomes more of a focal point in this offense.