Despite impending free agency, Jason Witten hopes to return to Cowboys next season

Jason Witten will officially become a free agent in March, putting his football future up in the air once again. 

The longtime Dallas tight end sounds like he wants to return for a 17th season in the league next fall. Yet given all the changes underway within the Cowboys organization — the team hired head coach Mike McCarthy to replace Jason Garrett earlier this month — Witten is fully aware that he may be looking elsewhere for a place to play.

“We’ll see how it plays out, but yeah, I’m putting myself in position to go play and evaluating what that looks like,” Witten said, via The Athletic. “I hope [it’s with the Cowboys]. But 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. That’s just part of the business. I’ll continue to communicate and see where it unfolds.”

Witten recorded 529 yards and four touchdowns on 63 receptions for Dallas last season, his first year back after a brief one-year stint with ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The 37-year-old is the organization’s all-time receptions leader and has undoubtedly been the most stable part of the Cowboys offense since he entered the league in 2003.

McCarthy confirmed that he has spoken with Witten since arriving in Dallas, but declined to say anything about his future plans — be that returning to the field, joining his coaching staff or otherwise.

"I had a great conversation with Jason and he's got a number of things he's thinking about," McCarthy said earlier this month, via the Cowboys. "I think that's what he's working through right now."

Whether he returns or not, Witten believes that the Cowboys are in a great position to make a run next season. 

They are “absolutely a contender” to win a title, he said, which “makes you want to be a part of it.”

“Anybody who knows football, there are certain things you look for and say that’s going to be a potential championship team. Dallas passes that test with flying colors,” Witten said, via The Athletic. “I think what Stephen and Jerry and [vice president of player personnel Will McClay] have done, putting that team together, now Mike adding a good staff, it’s right there. 

“It’s easier said than done, you got to go do it. But I think it’s still primed to be able to compete at a high level.”

While he knows he may have to look elsewhere, Dallas tight end Jason Witten said he hopes to return to the Cowboys next fall. (AP/Butch Dill)

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