The Dallas Cowboys welcomed back tight end Jason Witten from the broadcast booth this past season, but the reunion could be short-lived. Witten is a free agent and Cowboys beat reporter Clarence Hill tweeted that “by all accounts” Witten will not return to the team in 2020. Hill also reported Dallas is placing a second-round tender on restricted free agent Blake Jarwin, which would raise his salary from $645,000 to $3.2 million.
The Fantasy Impact
The news makes it highly likely that the Cowboys enter 2020 with Jarwin as their top TE. Jarwin is 25 years old and entering his fourth season. He was undrafted out of Oklahoma State, catching on with the Cowboys’ practice squad and working his way up to the active roster for one game as a rookie. He came on strong towards the end of his sophomore campaign, catching 20 of 25 targets for 228 yards over the last four game. He seemed primed for a 2019 breakout – until Witten unretired, pushing Jarwin back to a secondary role.
Even as a backup playing half as many snaps as Witten, Jarwin still managed three weeks ofdouble-digit DKFP. He saw more targets, receptions, and air yards per play than Witten, and Jarwin had far more explosive catches – Jarwin logged eight receptions of at least 20 yards, compared to Witten’s two. It should come as little surprise, therefore, that the Cowboys are willing to move on from the will-be-38-year-old Witten in favor of Jarwin.
Witten finished 2019 as the 11th overall fantasy TE. Though the Cowboys changed head coaches this offseason, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will return, and the most likely scenario is that most of the key offensive skill players will also return. It seems safe to assume that Jarwin takes over all of Witten’s opportunities. Given Jarwin’s improved efficiency, it is likely that he outpaces Witten’s 63 catches for 529 yards and four TDs (assuming full health). Jarwin probably isn’t talented enough to jump into the top-six-ish among TEs (George Kittle, Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, and the Philly combo in some order), but he’s likely to finish inside the top-12 and he has a good chance to improve upon Witten’s 11th place standing.