The retirement of Heath Miller really hit me today.
Not because I am a huge Miller fan or Steelers fan or anything like that, but my first reaction was to think about Jason Witten.
Witten has been ‘ole reliable for quite some time with the Dallas Cowboys. You know what you’re going to get with him. He is going to block better than almost any tight end you can think of. He is going to find all the holes in the defense. He is going to catch the ball and these days…pretty much get tackled immediately.
But, he is always so reliable. There are few players in the game who can do what Jason Witten has done for as long as he has done it.
To say it would be a huge loss should Witten retire would be a drastic understatement. This is one of the foundational pieces in Cowboys history.
With that being said, Jason Witten’s days have to be numbered. His play on the field is still so good that you don’t have to worry about him regressing or anything of that nature. His style of play is conducive to a long career.
At 33 years old though, you have to think he might want to call it quits some time in the near future. Thirteen years of NFL football is a lot for any player to handle, let alone a tight end. That is 207 games of NFL football. That is just insane to think about.
That brings me to my main point. Tight end has to be a position the Cowboys think about. With Gavin Escobar suffering a torn achilles late in the 2015 season and James Hanna about to hit free agency, the tight end position is one of the thinnest on the roster.
The Cowboys traded back into the seventh round of last year’s NFL draft to select Geoff Swaim. That is your depth chart right there, Jason Witten and Geoff Swaim.
Swaim is considered to be mostly a blocking tight end, but he didn’t really get the opportunities to show what he can do as a receiver at Texas. There is some potential there, but if anything were to happen to Jason Witten would you feel comfortable with Geoff Swaim and nothing else?
If Jason Witten were to call if quits, would you feel comfortable with Geoff Swaim being the tight end of the future?
While I’m not here to bash Swaim, I actually think he showed some promise, I do think the tight end position needs to be addressed.
The Cowboys love to run the ball using two tight ends. Swaim and Witten wouldn’t be a bad thing, but James Hanna did a great job as a blocking tight end and really showed promise as a receiver as well.
How do the Cowboys address the tight end position?
They can simply re-sign James Hanna. This would give them a tight end depth chart of Jason Witten, James Hanna and Geoff Swaim. That isn’t a bad depth chart by any means.
If the Cowboys want to go the free agency route, Dwayne Allen is a really intriguing option, but I don’t think this is the time to make any sort of a splash at the tight end position.
They can take a tight end in the draft, but I wouldn’t use a premium pick on it unless that player is by far the best player available at the pick.
The best way to fortify the tight end position is to simply re-sign James Hanna. This would give the Cowboys good depth at the tight end position. Finding the heir to Jason Witten can happen further down the line. You would like to find his successor through the draft, but I don’t think that time has come yet. This is the time to find developmental guys or take risks and hope it pans out so you don’t have to use a premium pick later on.
Appreciate Jason Witten while you have him. That man is an all-time talent and an all-time character. I would love to see Witten ride off on top after winning a Super Bowl, maybe with his battery-mate Tony Romo as well.
Two guys who definitely deserve that ever-so-elusive Super Bowl ring.