Blake Jarwin was on track to be the successor to Jason Witten in Dallas — until Witten came out of retirement.
That didn’t stop Jarwin’s statistical production, which was nearly identical in the seasons played without and with Witten, going from 27 receptions, 307 yards and three touchdowns to 31 catches, 365 yards and three scores. Now, Witten is gone for good, off to the Raiders after the Cowboys decided to move in the younger direction with a four-year, $22 million commitment to Jarwin.
It’s Jarwin’s time as the Cowboys’ No. 1 tight end, but he’s not forgetting what he learned from the Cowboys legend.
"I’ve always been thankful for what he’s done for me," Jarwin said, via ESPN. "He never had to stop and tell me and Dalton [Schultz] about things he sees, and he did anyway. I don’t care about what people thought. We never thought like that in our tight-end room. We had a pretty close relationship. It’s going to be a little different seeing [Witten] in a Raiders jersey."
Different indeed, but as things go in this league, the only path is forward. Jarwin will soon have to start proving he’s worth the $5.5 million per year on average, which means more than what he’s produced in his last two seasons.
Sixteen starts and reaching near the level of output of a Witten should be Jarwin’s goal. After all, he spent two seasons watching how the veteran did it on a daily basis.
"As a rookie, I’m pretty reserved as it is, and I’d just kind of stay away and watch how he worked. He came in every single day like he was still trying to make it," Jarwin said. "When it was his turn, he’s going 100%. But he always felt like he had something to prove."
Witten still does, this time with Jon Gruden and the Raiders. But so does Jarwin as the man who replaced Witten.
"You’ve got to look at it like it’s just the beginning," Jarwin said. "I’ve still got a lot to prove. That’s another thing I learned from seeing a guy go to work every single day. He’s a 15-to-16-year vet, but he’s still trying to make the team like he’s a rookie. I’m going to hold on to that mindset. I was an undrafted free agent. That’s going to prevent me from ever being content."
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