We could be looking at one of the biggest free agency periods in recent memory if some of the notable names actually hit the open market. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Derrick Henry are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 18th. One or more stands a good chance of signing a contract with their current team before then, but there is a chance one or more is taking calls when the tampering period opens on March 16th.
2019 in review
While Witten didn’t produce a blockbuster season in his return from a brief retirement, he was better than adequate as he provided a reliable set of hands and continued with his clutch third down play for the Cowboys. He finished the season with 63 receptions for 529 yards and four touchdowns. From a fantasy perspective, these stats allowed him to finish the season as the 11th ranked tight end on the season in standard ESPN leagues.
There are several teams that may be in need of a tight end in 2020. The New England Patriots have struggled to fill the void that Rob Gronkowski left after the 2018 season and if they are unable to snag a younger free agent tight end and aren’t will to take a tight end in the draft, Witten may be a solid target with ample experience for Brady to look for over the middle of the field.
Another team that could use some significant improvement at the tight end position is the Jacksonville Jaguars, as the position was all but nonexistent for the team this past season. James O’ Shaughnessy had the most catches for the team at the position with an underwhelming total of 14.
The Chicago Bears may be searching for some help at the tight end position, after injuries to both Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton caused a meager final tally for the position on the season. Even prior to these injuries, neither of the Bears’ current tight ends were making a strong impact on the field.
An interesting landing spot for Witten could be Washington, who have finally given up on the oft-injured Jordan Reed. Dallas fans would surely be disappointed in seeing a fan-favorite suit up for a divisional rival, but the NFL is a business, after all.
Do the Cowboys want to keep him?
Aside from Witten’s foray into the broadcasting world in 2018, Dallas fans have watched number 82 take the field for the Cowboys every season for the past 16 years. An article in the Dallas Morning News delves into Witten’s future possibilities in the NFL. When asked recently about whether he was considering retirement once again, Witten indicated that he is leaning towards playing in 2020, though he understands there is a chance that Dallas may no longer be his home. Reports indicate that despite the love that the Cowboys have for Witten, it may be time to move on and crown Blake Jarwin as the new king of the tight end depth chart. It seems that new head coach Mike McCarthy is unwilling to commit to Witten at this point, as a Sports Illustrated article divulges that McCarthy’s advice to Witten was, “If you want to go play, you play.”
If Witten can land on a team desperate for a tight end, he has the potential to end the season as a TE1 or TE2. If he takes on a role as a back up tight end his fantasy value would diminish and he may be relegated to a bye week fill-in role. His draft value will depend solely on the size of his role once his final destination is decided.
New York Giants
There was speculation for some time, as detailed in an article by Colin Martin, that Witten may follow former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to the New York Giants in 2020. However, Freddie Kitchens has just been hired as the new tight ends coach in New York, causing that speculation to die down.
3/3 — Blake Jarwin was given a 2nd round tender, which would bump him up to $3.2 million. That move likely spells the end of Jason Witten in Dallas according to Cowboys beat writer Clarence Hill Jr.