The tight end position for the Dallas Cowboys had a steady leader for 15 years with Jason Witten. Once he retired, the first time, after the 2017 season it left a hole at the tight end, and Blake Jarwin took the bull by the horns in the 2018 season finale. He caught seven passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns, setting himself up to be the top option at tight end for the Cowboys going forward.
Witten came out of retirement for the 2019 season, and Jarwin had to go back to being a backup. 2020 was supposed to be Jarwin's breakout year, but he suffered a torn ACL in the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. He's on pace to be ready for the 2021 season, and he's eager to get back to making plays.
“I'm excited, and my goal is to be the best I've ever been by Day 1 of training camp and carry that into the season and let's just roll from there,” Jarwin said.
Although he had just 31 receptions for 365 yards and three touchdowns in 2019, the Cowboys signed Jarwin to a three-year, $24.25 million dollar extension last March, just before Witten departed to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Once any player gets a bigger bank account it comes with higher expectations, which Jarwin had for himself heading into last season until it was derailed by his unfortunate knee injury.
“Obviously, my expectation for myself was pretty high, and then just to go down like that in the first half of the first game was pretty tough,” Jarwin during OTAs last week.
Jarwin was in attendance last week once the Cowboys opened OTAs. He didn't participate in any fieldwork, instead, he continued to rehab his injury in hopes to be ready for training camp at the end of next month.
Although he's progressing nicely as the new season approaches, Jarwin isn't in any hurry to rush back onto the field, which is smart with an injury like an ACL tear.
“There's really no reason, I guess, to rush into it,” Jarwin said. “Just make sure that I'm feeling good – and I feel good. I'll just keep pushing along, and I anticipate, Day 1 of training camp, being ready to roll.”
The loss of Jarwin so early in 2020 was a devastating blow to the Cowboy's offense. However, that gave an opportunity to another tight end on the roster, Dalton Schultz, and he took full advantage. After just 13 receptions for 122 yards in his first two seasons, Schultz hauled in 63 passes (became only the fourth tight end in team history with 60 receptions is a season) for 615 yards and four touchdowns in 14 starts.
Jarwin is preparing to take back the lead in the tight end room. Even with that being true, he recognizes what Schultz was able to do last season, and he's ready for the competition between the two.
“Just to see him kind of have that success on the field, I'm just happy for him,” Jarwin said of Schultz. “I'm excited to get back out there and compete with him. I think it's going to be great for both of us, and I think both of us on the field at the same time will be awesome, as well.”
Speaking of both being in the field at the same time, Schultz is ready to see that become a reality also, as he mentioned last week.
“Dude, I am so excited for Blake to get back on the field,” Schultz said. “I love working alongside a guy that I can really trust. Obviously, we've had a few years of work together. He is one of the hardest-working guys in the locker room.
“He's putting so much hard work and time in. He's still got a ways to go, but, dude, I can't wait to see him finally go out and prove to everybody that he's the tight end that everybody thinks he is. I'm excited to have that two-headed monster in the room that hopefully can take advantage of defenses this year.”
Transitioning from an all-time great player like Witten at any position usually takes a bit of time. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they have two starting quality tight ends on the roster in Jarwin and Schultz, and at 27 and 25 respectively when the season starts, this could be quite the duo at tight end for the foreseeable future.