Jason Witten has become the “old man” on the Dallas Cowboys youthful roster. More than anybody else, he was probably hit the hardest with the devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The heartache he felt after Sunday's game even put thoughts of retirement in his mind, but fortunately that was short-lived, which means he will be back next season.
Witten knows that his window to win a championship in the NFL is nearly shut and that he might have missed an opportunity this year. But, he also knows that this team is building special, which probably is the big reason he decided to return for his last year under contract with the Cowboys.
Yes, you read that right. Witten has one more year under contract with the Cowboys. And for me, having to think about saying goodbye to one of my all-time favorite players is bittersweet.
Much like his best friend, Tony Romo, Jason Witten epitomizes the type of player the Dallas Cowboys want on their team. He has always been a team-first player and puts everything he has into being the best football player, and person, he can possibly be.
For the Dallas Cowboys, it might be the perfect time to find his replacement before he decides to fade into the shadows of retirement.
The 2017 draft class is deep at the tight end position. The Cowboys might not have a better opportunity to find someone who can that can learn under Jason Witten's tutelage for a year before taking over full-time.
Can you just imagine the amount of knowledge Witten can provide to a young player?
Unfortunately, I don't think Witten's heir apparent is currently on the Cowboys roster. The only tight ends under contract next season, with the exception of Witten, are Geoff Swaim, James Hanna, and Rico Gathers.
Hanna and Swaim are good players in their own right, but I don't think either of them are what the Cowboys really want in a starting tight end. Rico Gathers could possibly turn into the starter in the future, but I still think he needs time to develop his skill set.
To me, the draft might be the best option available for the Dallas Cowboys to find Jason Witten's replacement.
There are several tight ends that could pique the Cowboys interest in the first several rounds, but there are others later in the draft as well. Honestly, I wouldn't mind them drafting one in the first few rounds.
O.J. Howard (Alabama) would be my preferred choice, but it's unlikely he will still be available when the Cowboys are on the clock with their first round selection.
The Dallas Cowboys have shown in the past that they like drafting their tight ends in the second round (Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett, and Gavin Escobar). They have also shown that they aren't afraid to take a chance on an injured player. That is why Jake Butt (Michigan) makes a lot of sense. He could still be on the board for the Cowboys in the second round.
Butt would probably have to redshirt his rookie season because of the knee injury he sustained in Michigan's bowl game (sound familiar). The Cowboys took this approach last year with Jaylon Smith, but they might not be willing to do that two years in a row.
Howard and Butt are my two favorite tight ends in this draft, but like I mentioned earlier, this is a deep tight end draft class. The Cowboys could find their future starting TE in almost any round. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until April to see how things turn out.
Do you think it's time to find Jason Witten's replacement?
Please for free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.