Jason Garrett: ‘There’s no doubt’ Jason Witten can still play
Jason Witten shocked the NFL world Thursday by announcing he will leave the “Monday Night Football” booth and return to playing tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.
While many have expressed skepticism that the 36-year-old Witten can still compete at the NFL level after a one-year layoff in retirement, Jason Garrett is not among them.
“There’s no doubt in his mind that he can still play, and there’s no doubt in my mind he can still play,” Garrett said, via the Cowboys’ official site. “I’m excited to have him back.”
The Cowboys are believed to have signed Witten to a one-year contract in the range of $5 million. The team is somewhat thin at the tight end position, so the Cowboys head coach’s optimism about Witten returning to form — which arguably was not what it once was over the last few seasons — arguably could be wishful thinking.
Witten, who turns 37 in May, had a disastrous debut season on “MNF,” with gaffe after gaffe becoming the subject of mock and ridicule on social media. Many believe that may have played a role in him coming out of retirement.
Witten, however, indicated in a statement that was not the case, instead saying the “fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong.”
Garrett echoed those same sentiments while addressing Witten’s return to the team.
“It was a great opportunity he had at ESPN to go be the lead analyst on ‘Monday Night Football,’ but I think playing football still tugged at his heart,” Garrett said. “I think he felt like there was still some meat on the bone, things he wanted to accomplish. And I just think he loves it and wants to be in this environment.”
It remains to be seen just how the Cowboys plan to utilize Witten in his 16th NFL season, as there’s legitimate concern over how much he has to offer. A more limited role may be in the offing, but one thing is certain: Witten arguably has a much better chance of success on the gridiron than in the broadcast booth.