In an otherwise miserable season for the Dallas Cowboys, tight end Jason Witten reached several positive milestones.
Nov 22 - Witten passed Bob Lily to become the Cowboys' all-time "iron man," playing in 196 consecutive games.
- Dec 7 - He caught his 1,000th career reception, becoming only the 12th player and second TE to hit that mark.
- Dec 27 - Witten broke Michael Irvin's Cowboys record with his 188th consecutive game with a reception.
Without question, Jason Witten will one day sit in the Cowboys' Ring of Honor and get a bust in Canton. As this stalwart enters his 14th professional season, you have to start wondering how far off those enshrinement ceremonies really are. How much longer can Witten keep playing?
Witten turned 34 last May and hasn't missed a game since the 2004 season. He has played in 214 total games and started all but 11 of them. He has been a full-time fixture of the offense during his tenure and missed very few plays.
Any Cowboys fans with clear, objective vision can see that Witten is slowing down. He's still highly effective because his precise routes and chemistry with Tony Romo. Even last year, with backup quarterbacks playing 75% of the season, Witten remained a go-to option and led the team in receptions.
Check out this Top 10 highlight reel from Jason Witten's 2015 season:
It's #TopTenTuesdays! Check out the top 10 plays from veteran Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten during the 2015 NFL Season. Subscribe to NFL: http://j.mp/1L0bVBu Keep up with NFL every day of the week!
The Jason Witten who once streaked down the field without a helmet doesn't have those same wheels anymore. Still, as the video shows, he can get open and make the tough catches in traffic. That kind of player can last a long time.
Just ask Tony Gonzalez, the only other TE to be in the 1,000 Catch Club. He played 17 seasons and retired at age 37, having played in all about two games out of those years. Even in his final seasons, Gonzalez never had less than 80 catches.
There will never be a reason to not have Jason Witten around. Some want to link him and Romo together in terms of projected longevity, assuming they will want to retire together. But Romo's health issues put him in a much different place right now than Witten, who has had very few known medical problems.
Romo (36) is not only two years older than Witten (34) but has chronic back issues that could prompt a retirement at almost any point. At his age it wouldn't even be considered an "early" exit from football. If his back problems flare up again in 2016, Romo could easily decide to protect his long-term future and end his career.
Nobody knows how much longer Jason Witten sees himself playing football. But the idea that he will want to walk away when Romo does seems a gross assumption. I could just as easily seen Witten, a natural leader with a likely future in coaching, wanting to stick around to help the next Cowboys quarterback make a smooth transition.
Also, it's not like Dallas has anyone else coming for Witten's job. Gavin Escobar is close to earning the bust label as he enters his the final year of his rookie deal. The Cowboys just re-signed James Hanna, more of a backup and special teams player, to a three-year deal paying him about $2.5 million per season.
One thing to consider, as it always is in the NFL, is money. Jason Witten's contract expires after the 2017 season. That year he will count $9.5 million against the cap and the Cowboys could get back $7.4 million of that if he's released. That's a huge chunk of change, and Dallas may be looking for some funds if Romo's still around and they have other moves they need to make.
It's easy to assume that Dallas would never cut Witten, but there was a time when we'd have probably thought the same about DeMarcus Ware. Ultimately, the Cowboys weighed cost effectiveness and parted ways with Ware despite him being a locker room leader and consummate professional. Sound like someone we know?
I'd like to think that Jason Witten will, no matter how long he plays, always have a star on his helmet. I would've loved the same for DeMarcus Ware. But time has proven that the business end will almost always prevail. No player is untouchable.
Don't believe me?
Report: QB Dak Prescott Signs Multi-Year Deal With Campbell’s Chunky Soup
Being the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback comes with its challenges, but it certainly comes with its perks as well. One of those perks is the opportunity for endorsement deals, and income outside of his football salary.
Dak Prescott is embracing those perks now, reportedly signing a multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup through 2020. Prescott will continue to endorse Chunky MAXX, Campbell's protein soup line.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has re-signed a new multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup through 2020. This is the first QB multi-year deal for Chunky Soup since Donovan McNabb in 2001. He'll continue to promote Chunky MAXX, the protein-packed line of soups, this year, per Edelman
Campbell's Soup has had some legendary football related commercials throughout the years, none more memorable than those with former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and his mother.
In fact, Dak Prescott is the first NFL quarterback to sign a multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup since those McNabb commercials.
Hopefully, Dak Prescott can continue to "prove it" on the field and still be the Cowboys starting quarterback throughout this entire Campbell's deal.
BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year
For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.
Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.
Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.
In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.
Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.
The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.
Jason Witten’s Lasting Message to Cowboys TE Rico Gathers
When Dallas Cowboys legend Jason Witten retired from the NFL last month, he left behind an unproven group of tight ends for the Cowboys to field as Witten moves on to the Monday Night Football broadcast booth. This is not a TE group short of potential, although that's nothing new for the laundry list of players that have failed at the position behind the Hall of Fame bound Witten.
Headlining this group of potential heirs to Witten has to be 2016 draft pick Rico Gathers. Not yet given the same opportunities that Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are receiving through the Cowboys ongoing mini camp, Gathers has been criticized for his commitment to his team.
Looking to make the transition from the basketball court at Baylor to the football field, Gathers' journey began at Witten's soon-to-be home forever. Playing his first organized football game since middle school, Gathers and Witten were teammates in the Hall of Fame game at Canton, Ohio in 2017.
A game rarely leaving fans with a lasting memories, Gathers immediately flashed potential in the passing game, hauling in three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Gathers would go on to spend the season on IR after a concussion suffered in practice, recovering from it in time to return but never seeing the field.
This leaves Gathers' prospects of putting it all together in year three at a difficult crossroads. It will be hard to question Gathers' commitment moving forward, as the message from his former teammate Jason Witten still lives with him.
If Witten truly sees a "bright future" for Rico Gathers, who Head Coach Jason Garrett says needs work in the running game, there is no reason the Cowboys can't find a role for him this season. With an entirely unproven group of wide receivers, Gathers could be the reliable mismatch for Dak Prescott to target in the middle of the field.
Prescott was the ninth worst quarterback in the league last season in red zone completion percentage, surely something the 6'6" TE Gathers could help improve.
Gathers may be a long way off from becoming Prescott's version of Witten to Tony Romo, but there is still hope for the 2016 draft pick, according to now football analyst Jason Witten.
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