Dallas Cowboys: A weak tight end class means sticking with Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin

Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The 2020 NFL Draft isn’t very deep at tight end, which means the Dallas Cowboys may be better off re-signing Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin.

It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys will likely be in the market for a tight end this offseason. Where they choose to look, however, will be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow. As we all know, both Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

Witten has expressed a desire to return to Dallas, but there’s no guarantee that the feeling is mutual with new head coach Mike McCarthy. If Witten does want to play for a 17th season, the Cowboys will then have to make the difficult decision as to whether or not they want to stick with the 37-year-old tight end or perhaps go younger at the position.

Here’s where Blake Jarwin comes in. The 25-year-old Jarwin showed flashes of great potential last season as he caught 21 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns, in limited playing time. While Jarwin has shown he can make plays in the passing game, his run blocking is suspect, which is why the Cowboys relied on Witten most of the time.

Jarwin will likely seek a raise from his initial contract that he signed as an undrafted free agent. Witten, who already signed a team-friendly contract when he came out of retirement, probably won’t break the bank either.

Realistically, the Cowboys could probably re-sign both players and be just fine at the position next year. But as we’ve seen with players like Travis KelceZach Ertz and George Kittle, having a big time playmaker at tight end can make a huge difference on offense. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for Cowboys fans; Witten was that for many years.

The problem is there’s not much else out there. If the Cowboys are going to address the position, it’ll likely come in the draft. I just don’t see them forking over big time money to one of these other unrestricted tight ends.

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty thin class for tight ends. Most mock drafts don’t have a tight end going until the second round. The general consensus is that this year’s crop of tight ends are better receivers than they are run blockers.

Purdue’s Brycen Hopkins and Washington’s Hunter Bryant are both among the top-ranked tight end prospects. While both have excelled in the passing game at the college level, there are question marks surrounding their ability to block at the next level.

Any tight end taken in this year’s draft is going to be a work in progress. They may be able to contribute in the passing game immediately, but an adjustment period, especially when it comes to run blocking, is not uncommon for the position.

The Dallas Cowboys probably won’t find an immediate upgrade for either Witten or Jarwin at an affordable price in free agency either, which is why I believe they’ll turn to the draft to find their future star tight end. But for now, they are left with little choice at the position for this upcoming season.

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The Dallas Cowboys need to re-sign Jason Witten for the veteran presence he brings at the position and his ability to run block, while also re-signing Blake Jarwin as someone who can potentially grow into the starter role or at least serve as a stop-gap player while a rookie develops. At the same time, the rookie will have the opportunity to learn the position from one of the best tight ends to have ever played the game.