If the Dallas Cowboys lose Jason Witten to retirement soon, the team should kick the tries on this free agent tight end that sat out in 2017.
Last week, following the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Dallas Cowboys fans were left in shock by the news that 15-year veteran tight end Jason Witten was considering retirement. The news came just a couple weeks after Witten confirmed he would be returning for the upcoming season.
In a following press conference, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones revealed that Witten and himself had meet earlier in the week about the possibility of the future Hall of Famer hanging up his cleats in order to accept a job as the color analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. It’s being reported that Witten has now been offered yet another job in the media as well.
Witten is turning 36-years old this weekend. And he is expected to give his final answer sometime before that. But his possible exodus puts the Cowboys in an awkward position.
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Numbers aren’t the problem for the Cowboys at tight end, as they currently have Rico Gathers, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and 2018 fourth round rookie in Stanford’s Dalton Schultz on the depth chart. Dallas also signed undrafted free agent tight end David Wells out of San Diego State recently.
The problem Dallas has is experience. These five tight ends combined have recorded nine receptions for 94 yards in the regular season, all of which was complied by Swaim alone.
If Witten retires, the Cowboys could look to free agency to find themselves that much need experience. Of the names that are currently available, the one that seems to make the most sense is Gary Barnidge.
The 32-year old veteran was a late bloomer as a professional, starting in just 25 games and recording just 44 receptions total in his first seven NFL seasons. Between 2015 and 2016, Barnidge’s production exploded, posting a total of 134 catches for 1,655 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns released Barnidge last April despite owing him $700K. Rather than signing for the veteran minimum elsewhere, the nine-year veteran opted to sit out 2017 in order to rest his body and prepare for an opportunity the following season.
If the Dallas Cowboys are needing an experienced hand to help quarterback Dak Prescott this upcoming season and be a bridge player for the younger tight ends on the roster, signing someone like Gary Barnidge seems like a smart move.