Jason Witten

Contract Details: Lawson, Trufant, Shelton, Witten,

Kyler Fackrell (Giants), One year, $4.6MM, $3.5MM guaranteed, base salary 2020: $2.6MM, $2MM roster bonus, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

Antonio Hamilton (Chiefs), One year, $1.047MM, $887.5k guaranteed, $137.5k signing bonus; salary 2020: $910k ($750k guaranteed), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Shaq Lawson (Dolphins), Three years, $30MM, $21MM guaranteed, $4MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $6.4MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $7.9MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $8.9MM; $2.5MM fully guaranteed roster bonus in 2020, $100k workout bonus in 2020-2021, potential $2MM in annual incentives, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

John Miller (Panthers), One year, $4MM, $2MM guaranteed, $2MM signing bonus; salary 2020: $1.79MM; $160k in per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Danny Shelton (Lions), Two years, $8MM, $4MM guaranteed, $2.5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $1.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $4MM, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.

Desmond Trufant (Lions), Two years, $20MM, $14MM guaranteed, $5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $4.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $9.5MM ($4.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing); $500k in annual per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jihad Ward (Ravens), One year, $1.047MM, $637.5k guaranteed, $137.5k signing bonus; salary 2020: $910,000 ($500,000 guaranteed), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jaylen Watkins (Texans), Two years, $3MM, $300k guaranteed, $300k guaranteed; salaries 2020: $1.1MM, 2021: $1.4MM; 200k first-game roster bonus in 2020, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jason Witten (Raiders), One year, $4MM, $3.5MM guaranteed; salary 2020: $3.5MM (fully guaranteed); $500k in per-game roster bonuses, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Raiders To Sign Jason Witten

Here’s one that not many people saw coming. Tight end Jason Witten will be signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link).

It’s a one-year deal that can be worth up to $4.75MM, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. Although we heard last month that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted Witten back, the tight end himself had said he was open to playing with another team. Witten also said that he preferred to finish his career in Dallas, but obviously it didn’t work out. Witten is a Cowboys icon, who spent 16 years with the team before now finally moving on at the age of 37.

Witten, of course, retired after the 2017 season for a brief and ill-fated stint as the Monday Night Football color commentator for ESPN. He’ll now be playing for a coach, Jon Gruden, who used to hold that exact role. After sitting out 2018 he returned to the Cowboys last year, and played a relatively significant role.

He appeared in all 16 games, catching 63 passes for 529 yards and four touchdowns. Despite his advanced age Witten has been remarkably durable, appearing in all 16 games in each of his last 15 seasons. He’ll likely play a reduced role as a pass-catcher in Vegas, and will probably serve as more of a mentor for Darren Waller, the Raiders tight end who broke out last year.

Witten was one of the last remaining ties to the old era of Cowboys football, and Dallas will likely move forward with Blake Jarwin as their unquestioned starter at the position. They signaled as much by inking him to a three-year extension Monday. Witten will end his run in Dallas as the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions, yards, and games played. He’s also fourth on the NFL’s all-time receptions list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Jerry, Dez, Witten

This is not exactly surprising given that he’ll turn 78 in October, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not planning to remain at the helm beyond the expiration of the next CBA, as Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets. Of course, the proposed CBA that will soon be voted on by the league’s workforce is another 10-year agreement, so it makes sense that Jones, who has owned the club since 1989, would be prepared to step down around the time the players and owners sit down again in another decade or so.

However, he is adamant that the proposed CBA is the right move for the league and should be ratified by the players.

Now for more from Dallas:

  • Former star wideout Dez Bryant hasn’t played since 2017, but he wants to continue his NFL career and recently expressed his desire to rejoin the Cowboys. For what it’s worth, Jones said he hasn’t ruled it out, as Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Jones even revealed a little more than we may have liked, saying he has considered the matter while in the shower.
  • Jones would also like tight end Jason Witten to return to the team, as Hill notes (Twitter link). However, it sounds like Jones has a reduced role in mind for Witten, and it remains to be seen whether Witten — who is open to signing elsewhere — will be receptive to that.
  • Likewise, Jones wants to retain pass-rusher Robert Quinn (Twitter link via Hill). The last we heard, the Cowboys had not discussed a new contract with Quinn — understandable, as the club has bigger fish to fry at the moment — but Quinn posted 11.5 sacks in a resurgent 2019 campaign, and Jones hopes there is a way he can keep him in Dallas.
  • Another member of the Cowboys’ front seven, Tyrone Crawford, is under contract through 2020, but the Cowboys could save $6.9MM by cutting him. That could be tempting, given that Crawford played in just four games in 2019 and had surgery on both of his hips. However, the 30-year-old said he could return to the field this spring, and Jones expects him to be on the roster, though he is definitely a restructure candidate (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News).
  • Cowboys DE Michael Bennett signed a new contract with the Cowboys after Dallas acquired him from the Patriots in October that allows him to hit free agency this year. As such, his comments to ESPN’s Josina Anderson indicating that he wants to play in 2020 are not surprising (Twitter link). It sounds as though Bennett, 34, wants to hook on with a contender, and there should be a market for his services.

Jason Witten Committed To Playing In 2020

Of the three options for Jason Witten regarding the 2020 season, he has eliminated one of them. The future Hall of Fame tight end does not intend to retire and has decided he wants to play a 17th season, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter).

The next question will be where Witten plays. He has indicated leaving the Cowboys for another team is on the table, but Witten reiterated Tuesday night he wants to play the 2020 season in Dallas.

I think I have to be,” Witten said about being open to playing for another team (via The Athletic’s Jon Machota, on Twitter). “Obviously that’s not ideal. I would love to finish it out here. … It’s a good young group of tight ends. I think I can help them in a lot of ways.”

However, the Cowboys have changed coaches for the first time in nearly 10 years. And Witten is not likely to return to the team, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. No one in the Cowboys’ 60-season history has played more games with the team than Witten, who has suited up for 255 contests since being a Dallas third-round pick in 2003. If Witten plays 16 games in 2020, he will break Tony Gonzalez‘s record for most games played by a tight end (270).

Witten retired after the 2017 season, but after a one-year stint on the Monday Night Football broadcast team, he returned to the Cowboys via one-year deal. Witten nearly duplicated his 2017 numbers, matching his catch total (63) while amassing 529 yards and four touchdowns. Yet again, he did not miss a game. Witten has played in an astounding 255 of a possible 256 regular-season games in his career.

Connections to the Giants have understandably surfaced, given Jason Garrett‘s status as Big Blue’s offensive coordinator. The Cowboys have a greater tight end need than the Giants, however. If Mike McCarthy‘s team does not bring back Witten, it will be interesting to see how it proceeds. The Cowboys did not feature much of note at the tight end spot during Witten’s 2018 NFL sabbatical.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dak Prescott, Cowboys FAs

We heard earlier this week that negotiations between the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott could ultimately lead to a franchise tag. However, Stephen Jones clarified that the organization is still focused on completing a long-term deal before Prescott hits unrestricted free agency in March.

“We want to get this done,” Jones told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram. “Things are fixing to heat up. We want to put every foot forward and try to grind this out and get a deal done.

“I know he wants to get his contract in the rear view mirror and we want it too. We want him to be treated well, financially and respectfully. We are going to have a real urgency to get this done.”

There’s been optimism surrounding an extension for months, but the report from earlier this week cautioned that a deal wasn’t imminent. We heard back in January that the two sides were close to an agreement, with the Cowboys reportedly willing to give Prescott a contract worth $33MM per season. Hill Jr. notes that the quarterback is seeking a deal that would jump Russell Wilson‘s league-leading $35MM AAV.

“I don’t want to get into the details, but we have offered him significant money,” Jones said. “The money we have offered Dak no matter how you look at it would put him as a top five quarterback in the NFL. That is the way we feel about him. He is one of the best.”

Jones added that the team’s priority is signing their franchise quarterback, and they haven’t discussed contracts with any of their other free agents, including wideout Amari Cooper and pass-rusher Robert Quinn. Hill Jr. tweets that the organization also hasn’t decided whether they’ll bring back tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Sean Lee. We learned this morning that Lee wasn’t going to retire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Wants To Return To Cowboys

Could Dez Bryant reunite with the Cowboys? Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says the wide receiver has reached out to him and he’s not ruling out the possibility of signing the veteran.

He has texted me that he would like to come back,” Jones said (via Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram). “We have nothing but great respect for Dez and what he accomplished here. Certainly, as we look forward into the future we look at all opportunities and all potential players that could maybe help us out.”

There haven’t been advanced discussions regarding Bryant just yet, however. Jones explained that he has only started discussing personnel with head coach Mike McCarthy. The two haven’t made determinations on their own free agents either, so Jones says nothing has been decided regarding tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Sean Lee.

Bryant spent eight years with the Cowboys, racking up 531 catches, nearly 7,500 yards, and a franchise-high 73 receiving touchdowns. His run included three straight seasons of at least 88 grabs, 1,200 yards, and 12 touchdowns. During that window from 2012-2014, Bryant was one of the league’s best receivers, and the Cowboys gave him a lucrative contract to reflect his production.

Of course, things didn’t end too well for Bryant and the Cowboys. In his last three seasons with Dallas, Bryant failed to top 900 yards. Then, the Cowboys dropped him in April of 2018, which put him on the curb after most of the NFL’s available free agent dollars had been allocated. Midway through the ’18 season, Bryant hooked on with the Saints. He never suited up for them, however, thanks to an Achilles tear in practice. Last year, Bryant was away from the NFL and training for an eventual return.

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowler, will turn 32 in November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jason Witten Open To Playing Elsewhere

Less than a year ago, Jason Witten came out of retirement to rejoin the Cowboys. But they now have a new coaching staff, for the most part, making the future Hall of Famer’s status less certain.

Witten has not committed to retiring or returning to the Cowboys for a 17th season. Preferring to stay in Dallas, the 37-year-old tight end has discussed his future with Jerry Jones and new Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy. But the player with the fourth-most receptions in NFL history acknowledged a Dallas departure is also possible.

I realize I’m a free agent too in March. Any time a new staff comes together, I’ve played a long time, so I realize that may mean somewhere else too,” Witten said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic (on Twitter).

Among active players, Witten’s 255 games as a Cowboy are the second-most anyone has played with one team. He trails only Tom Brady (280 games as a Patriot) in this regard. Despite spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, Witten nearly duplicated his 2017 numbers by catching 63 passes for 529 yards and four touchdowns in a more explosive Cowboys offense.

Kellen Moore will return as Dallas’ OC and call plays, but Witten has worked with Jason Garrett in each of his past 12 seasons. A rumor circulated recently about Witten reuniting with Garrett in New York. The Giants, however, are better-positioned at tight end with Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison under contract in 2020. The Cowboys have Blake Jarwin (31 catches this season) as a restricted free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jason Witten Could Join Giants?

The Giants recently hired former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as their new offensive coordinator, and another longtime Cowboy could be joining Garrett in the Meadowlands. Per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the Giants could look to sign tight end Jason Witten when free agency opens in March (Twitter link).

Witten has spent his entire career in Dallas, and after a one-year stint in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth in 2018, he rejoined the club in 2019. The 37-year-old showed he still has something left in the tank, posting 63 catches for 529 yards and four touchdowns.

Witten recently indicated that he is open to continuing his playing career in 2020, and the Giants could certainly use him. Although Big Blue will have Evan Engram at the top of its depth chart, it couldn’t hurt to have a reliable security blanket like Witten for second-year QB Daniel Jones.

Engram missed the second half of the 2019 season due to injury, and the Giants turned to sixth-round rookie Kaden Smith in his stead. Smith posted 31 catches for 268 yards and three scores, not bad for a rookie TE who was claimed off waivers in September, but perhaps not enough to preclude a one-year deal with Witten.

Garrett joined the Cowboys in 2007, so Witten played under him for 12 years. Dallas will almost certainly offer Witten a better chance than New York to capture a Super Bowl ring in 2020, so that consideration may trump his familiarity with, and respect for, Garrett. Indeed, Mortensen says there is no real clarity on Witten’s future at this point (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Jason Witten To Keep Playing?

Sunday’s regular season finale could mark the final game of the Cowboys’ 2019 season and, in turn, the last game in Jason Witten‘s storied career. For what it’s worth, the tight end isn’t viewing Sunday’s contest against the Redskins as his swan song. 

[RELATED: Cowboys Still “Bullish” On Dak Prescott]

I really don’t envision this being my last game. I just haven’t approached it that way,” the 37-year-old said (Twitter link via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News). “We’ll see what happens down the road.

Witten rejoined the Cowboys after a year in the broadcast booth. Despite his advanced age and, perhaps, a bit of rust, Witten has remained productive. Appearing and starting in all 15 of the Cowboys’ games to date, Witten has notched 59 catches for 505 yards and four touchdowns. His per-catch average of 8.6 yards is a step back from his career average (10.7 per grab), but it appears that Witten still has plenty of offer, if he wants to continue his career.

Witten’s one-year, $3.5MM base-salaried deal will expire at the end of the season. After that, he figures to have plenty of options – the Cowboys would likely welcome him back for a 17th season on the field or he could even transition to coaching. If Witten wants to go to the sidelines, the Cowboys could have an opening for him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Witten, 49ers’ QB Trades, Kessler

Jason Witten made his return to the Cowboys after one year away from the club. As a former locker room leader of the franchise, integrating himself back into the fold could have been tricky, as new leaders have emerged in his absence. However, according to coach Jason Garrett, Witten has had no issues rejoining the team.

“Witt has been very mindful of that coming back,” Garrett said of Witten’s locker room role (via ESPN’s Ed Werder on Twitter). “He doesn’t want to be a guy the younger guys are constantly deferring to. He wants to integrate himself back into it, and he’s done that beautifully.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It appears the 49ers will hang on to both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard rather than trading one of the quarterbacks. “We haven’t had talks at all,” GM John Lynch said of the possibility of trades (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports’ Twitter feed).
  • Jimmy Ward was in full pads for the first time this week since he fractured his collarbone, Maiocco tweets. The 49ers gave him a one-year deal this past offseason.
  • Cody Kessler remains in the concussion protocol, per the EaglesTwitter feed. The franchise signed Josh McCown earlier today to add depth at the QB spot.
  • While the Texans may want picks if they are going to trade Jadeveon Clowney, Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP (Twitter link) contends that the Eagles should offer Derek Barnett straight up for him. Barnett, who was a first-round pick back in 2017, has two years remaining on his deal.