Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten admitted Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers was an emotional one for him.
It ended his 14th season in the NFL, the 14th without a trip to the Super Bowl and the 12th without a playoff win. He has never even advanced to the NFC Championship game.
It naturally brought questions about his future.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Witten said. “Every year when I’m empty at this point it’s just you gave everything you got and I’ll take time to reflect on it. I love this team and this group of guys and so yeah that will be the plan for sure.”
He has one year left on his deal with a $7.4 million base salary for 2017.
There is no question still can play the game at a high level. He caught 69 passes for 673 yards and three touchdowns in 2016.
He followed that up with a strong effort in the loss to the Packers, catching six passes for 59 and his first career postseason touchdown.
But it was a season that saw the Cowboys locker room move toward younger leaders in rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running Ezekiel Elliott.
If Witten does come back, he will likely do so without best friend and long-time Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who lost his starting job to Prescott and will likely play somewhere else in 2017.
“I’ll have to reflect and look at it,” Witten said. “I poured everything I had into this season and this moment so I don’t think that would be fair to reflect on that now. I’m proud of these guys. They played hard and a lot of them are young and to play that way, it’s not easy to do. But there’s also just the real raw authentic emotions that come with it. Destiny waits on no man. It doesn’t especially in this game, it’s just not going to wait. They made the plays and they executed. But this team, all year under the circumstances we had, to come together, there’s a lot of things to build on moving forward. I’ll always remember this 2016 football team.”
Still, there’s no question of the disappointment for Witten and the Cowboys. Witten understands that the postseason failures are part of his legacy up to this point.
“I’m well aware of that,” Witten said. “Obviously that’s something I realize, regardless of how many catches you have or any of that stuff, your legacy will be remembered as how you play in these certain situations in the playoffs and that’s tough. It’s tough for me to swallow that. It’s not about any one individual, I’m proud of this team. I really have my whole career I’ve tried to work really hard to not make it about me, and that’s why there’s emotion that goes along with this.”