Jason Witten Comes Out of Retirement, Signs 1-Year Contract with Cowboys

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2019

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, right, speaks with former NFL player Jason Witten before the first half of an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Jason Witten's retirement and subsequent broadcasting career lasted all of one year.

Witten, who spent last season in the broadcast booth for ESPN's Monday Night Football, has signed a one-year contract with his longtime team, the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced Thursday.

"The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong," Witten said in a statement. "This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I'm looking forward to getting back in the dirt."

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Cowboys will be paying Witten "roughly $5 million to come out of retirement for the 2019 season."

Witten, of course, is a Cowboys legend and a future Hall of Famer.

But it's unclear just what Witten, who will be 37 years old next season, will bring to the table after a year away from the game. In his final season in 2017, he caught 63 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns, averaging a career-low 8.9 yards per catch.

Those numbers were still better than what any of the Cowboys tight ends offered in 2018. Blake Jarwin led the position with 27 receptions for 307 yards and three touchdowns, hardly inspiring numbers. And while Dallas could have turned to a strong tight end class in this year's NFL draft to address the position, it will instead return to Witten. 

The other question will be how ESPN chooses to replace Witten in the MNF booth. Witten received mixed reviews during his time as a broadcaster, paling in comparison to his former teammate, Tony Romo, who was an instant hit in his broadcasting role.

That may give ESPN some pause if it considers replacing Witten with another former player who is inexperienced in the booth, as it seeks to fill one of the highest-profile commentating gigs in sports.

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