Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett isn't hiding how pleased he is to be adding a familiar weapon as he heads into the last year of his contract.
News broke Thursday morning that Jason Witten is coming out of retirement and returning to play for the Cowboys. Witten played tight end in Dallas from 2003-17 before spending last season in the booth for ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Even with a gap year, Garrett gushed publicly over Witten and made clear he believes Witten still possesses the same ability that made him a franchise cornerstone, per David Helman of the team's official site:
"I think he felt like there was still some meat on the bone, things he wanted to accomplish. And I just think he loves it and wants to be in this environment. ... He knows his body more than anybody else, He knows the demands of the game more than anybody else to make an honest assessment of where he was physically.
"There's no doubt in his mind that he can still play, and there's no doubt in my mind that he can still play."
Witten's return to the Cowboys comes just 10 months after he announced his retirement from the NFL.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Witten's contract with the Cowboys is for one year and "roughly" $5 million.
ESPN released a statement on Witten's decision:
"We thank Jason for his many contributions to Monday Night Football and to ESPN over the past year and wish him continued success. We have seen many former coaches and players go into broadcasting before eventually returning to the game they love, so we understand Jason's desire to return to the Dallas Cowboys."
The Cowboys will welcome the 36-year-old 11-time Pro Bowler back into their huddle with open arms. A rotation of tight ends filled Witten's void last season. Dallas' primary tight end was 24-year-old Blake Jarwin, who appeared in every game for the Cowboys and accumulated 307 yards and three touchdowns on 27 catches in the regular season.
Geoff Swaim played in eight games and caught 26 balls for 242 yards and one touchdown before suffering a season-ending wrist injury.
Nobody has provided the consistency for Dallas that Witten did in his career, as he started 96 percent of Cowboys games since 2003. In his 239 career games, Witten posted 1,152 receptions and 12,448 receiving yards—both the most in franchise history.
Witten is even already familiar with the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who played quarterback for Dallas in 2015. However, the most important thing will be what the return of Witten can do for current 'Boys quarterback Dak Prescott.