Jerry Jones: I Hope Jason Witten's Never Anything but a Cowboy Amid Free Agency

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2020

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) talks with team owner Jerry Jones, right, as the team works out at their NFL football training facility in Frisco, Texas, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Thursday at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine he hopes the franchise is able to re-sign tight end Jason Witten, who can become an unrestricted free agent March 18.

"I would hope that he would not ever be anything but a Cowboy," Jones told reporters. "I do think he can play. I think he can make a real contribution to the Cowboys."

Witten retired from the NFL following the 2017 season after 15 years with the Cowboys, who selected him in the third round of the 2003 draft. After one year working as a color commentator for ESPN's Monday Night Football, he returned to Dallas for the 2019 campaign.

The 37-year-old University of Tennessee product signed a one-year, $4.25 million contract and picked up right where he left off two years earlier.

Witten recorded 63 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. He tallied 63 catches for 529 yards and four scores in 2019.

The 11-time Pro Bowl selection is no longer the high-end playmaker he was during his prime, but he's still a reliable weapon at a position with a limited number of consistent producers.

Witten confirmed earlier this month he'd like to coach in the future, but for now his focus is on playing, even if that means leaving the Cowboys.

"When you explore that option, you want to find somewhere that's the right fit and you have a chance to win and you can contribute," he told reporters. "I haven't let my mind go there yet because I want to finish it out here with a star on my helmet."

Calvin Watkins @calvinwatkins

Also there an expectation Sean Lee will return in 2020. Jason Witten not so much.

The Cowboys don't have an obvious replacement on their roster for 2020, so they would have to fill the void via free agency or the draft if they don't bring Witten back.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are among the teams that will be seeking an upgrade at tight end in the offseason.