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Has Father Time Caught Up With TE Jason Witten?

Brian Martin

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Has Father Time Caught Up With TE Jason Witten?

You may or may not have heard of Father Time before, but he is a mythical old man that represents time's constant one-way movement. Father Time catches up with all of us at some point, but for professional athletes he kind of comes out of nowhere. Unfortunately, it is starting to look as if the old man has finally started to catch up with the Dallas Cowboys' future Hall of Fame tight end, Jason Witten.

As a fan, it's always difficult to see your favorite professional athlete coming to the end of their career. Jason Witten is probably my all-time favorite player and his professionalism both on and off the field will truly be missed by the Cowboys organization. He is an ambassador of the sport and personifies exactly what teams look for in their players.

Unfortunately, the fact that he contemplated retirement during the off-season would suggest this could possibly be the last season we see him suit up for America's Team, despite what his new 4-year contract extension would indicate. Whether it is his desire to spend more time with his family or maybe he is starting to feel like he's lost a step, we should all start to prepare ourselves for when he does decide to fade into the shadows.

TE Jason Witten

I personally didn't want to admit it at first, but it was noticeable throughout the 2016 season that Jason Witten was not playing up to his normal standards.

He is noticeably a step slower in the passing game, but is still a reliable target because of his veteran saviness to create separation. His 69 receptions for 673 yards were some of the worst numbers he has put up in his entire career since entering the NFL in 2003.

He also surprisingly struggled as an in-line blocker last season. This was an area of his game where he was among the best at his position in the entire NFL, but took a noticeable step back in the 2016 season.

There were just too many times last season where Jason Witten looked a little bit lethargic on the field, which to me suggests that his age and Father Time has started to catch up to him. I'm hoping that I'm wrong, but I'm wondering if we will see more of the same in 2017.

His low production in the receiving game could be explained by the Cowboys offense focusing more on the running game, but that doesn't quite explain everything else. It may be time for the Cowboys organization to start looking for his successor and the 2017 draft class has some pretty good TE options.

Jason Witten will not only go down as one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL, but THE BEST Dallas Cowboy to ever play for the organization.

I don't know about you, but I will definitely start to appreciate him more every time he steps on the field in 2017. At the very least, that's what he deserves from all of us if this is indeed his last season to play in the NFL.

Do you think Father Time has caught up with Jason Witten?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Travis Diggs

    March 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    If father time has caught up to Jason Witten then what does that say about the other te’s on our roster If the other Te’s on this roster can’t out play the old man Then we gotta problem on our hands at the position. He might have to play out the whole extension unfortunately because of the lack of TE production outside of him. I hope not

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Travis, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted another TE. I don’t think they have a starting caliber TE on the roster, with the exception of Jason Witten.

  2. Travis Diggs

    March 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I hope so I been looking at Evan Engram He would be a match up nightmare in our offense

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 28, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Engram would be a matchup nightmare in the passing game, but he doesn’t offer anything in the running game with his blocking. I don’t think is a fit in Dallas

  3. Stishar

    March 28, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I feel vindicated by your column as to his blocking ability last year. Hof er for sure, but there is a definite decline due to his age.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 28, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Jason Witten has lost a step, but he still playing at a pretty high level. I’m just hoping that he doesn’t start declining rapidly as a player.

  4. Randy Martin

    March 28, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Yeah I was encouraged to see the extension but in reality I know it was just to free up some cap space. Like you, Witten is one of my all-time favorite players and will miss him. I am very anxious to see how Gathers looks in camp and pre-season. I also thought Swaim was beginning to show us something before he went down last year. I think we will draft a TE at some point but I don’t feel it is paramount this season. I love Engram as well but he is not, at all, the kind of TE we would be looking for. I can see them drafting Butt in the 3rd or so but I saw recent word that he thinks he will be ready in camp. All bets would be off at that point and he could move back into the 1st round.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 29, 2017 at 9:16 am

      I’m also interested to see how Gathers looks, but I get the feeling he still has a ways to go. Swaim was definitely good backup but I don’t think he is a starter. The Cowboys have bodies for the position, but I don’t think Jason Witten’s successor is on the roster. I think if there is a good TE available that is the BPA, they should draft him.

  5. Charles

    March 28, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Hopefully our future TE’s are already on the roster. Swaim has looked good at times and Rico has the size to be a beast in the passing game as well as mowing down opposing players in the running game.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 29, 2017 at 9:19 am

      I really think that Swaim is a really good #2 TE, but I don’t know if he could handle the responsibilities as a starter. And I think Gathers needs more time to develop and learn the game. He could be used in certain situations, but I think he still has a ways to go until he’s ready to be relied upon.

  6. dallas1966

    March 28, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Rico to the rescue. I too notice a decline in witten play, in 2014, when everytime he caught the football, there was no yac. In addition, the seam routes seem to disappear, as well. With Rico, you have the threat of the deep seem route, and blocking off the edge. Remember Rico was killing it, during practice squad practice, last year. I think he is ready, training camp will be the key. Can you imagine Dez, Williams, Beasley and Rico as Dak’s weapons, along with Zeke, out of the backfield.

    The return to the glory days, yes sir!!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 29, 2017 at 9:21 am

      I really hope Gathers is ready to contribute, but I just don’t see it happening. I hope I’m wrong, but I think he probably needs another year to develop and learn the game. He could definitely be used in certain situations, but I just don’t think he’s ready to be a regular contributor.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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