Having spent one season in the booth instead of on the field, Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten decided to make a return for the 2019 season. He returned seeking the Lombardi Trophy that has been eluding the historic franchise for over 20 years. But as we know, things didn’t go that way. Instead, the Cowboys managed to win eight games and fell just short of the playoffs.
With one more season on his resume, Witten spoke about his uncertain future and what was ahead. Now 37-years old, Jason will have a decision to make over the following months. Does he stick around for one more year? Or does he call it quits one touchdown away from Dez Bryant’s franchise record?
It’s only fair to say Witten’s performance in 2019 was disappointing. He caught 63 passes for 529 yards. The one season he had less receiving yards was way back in 2003, his rookie season. As much as it hurts to say it, Witten failed to live up to one of his many nicknames, “Mr. Reliable.”
The Cowboys ranked 4th in dropped passes and Jason is one of the reasons why. Although Michael Gallup led the team with 11 drops, Witten’s six raised eyebrows throughout the season. Not to mention, Witten’s speed caused almost no threat after the catch.
In third and long situations, he didn’t pose much of a deep threat for opposing defenses. In fact, it’s impossible to understand Blake Jarwin’s limited participation. When Witten was signed by the Cowboys prior to the 2019 season, how Jason Garrett and the coaching staff wanted to utilize him caused a lot of speculation.
Some expected him to start, some to split the playing time with Jarwin, while some even thought he should be the team’s backup tight end. But that’s not how ol’ #82 was used at all.
Witten was the clear.cut starter as he played in 844 snaps (75.29%) while Jarwin was in for only 434 (38.72%). At times, Jarwin would make a play or two only to be sent back to the sideline again. It was frustrating, to say the least.
It’s tough to imagine Jason Witten playing one more season. It’s clear he isn’t the same player as he was before and despite being beloved by Cowboys’ fans, he’s not good enough to start in the NFL. If 2019 didn’t prove that, it’s hard to know what will.
But is he good enough to stay and play a secondary role? The fact that a new head coach is likely on the way makes this question all the more interesting. If Witten were to stay and whoever is named the next Cowboys’ HC wants him to stay as a backup, it might not be a bad idea.
Even still, it seems like the best route for the Cowboys is to either stick to Jarwin, or draft another TE to pair him up with #89.
Also worth questioning is Jason’s willingness to work with a new regime. Even if a new coach wants Witten on the roster, does the future Hall of Famer want to go through the process of adapting to a new coaching staff at this stage of his career?
Frankly, it seems like we’ve reached the end of Jason Witten’s career. As die-hard fans, it’s always tough to say goodbye to legends like himself, but it’s likely for the best. Witten’s career was a great one and another under-performing season would do nothing for his already solid legacy.
Perhaps Witten can explore coaching and thrive with a headset. Whatever lies ahead of him, Cowboys Nation surely wishes him the best.