The Dallas Cowboys are officially a team in transition headed into a new era led by a younger generation.
When the players gather for off-season workouts Monday, it starts the first full week of life without tight end Jason Witten.
It comes a few weeks after the team said goodbye to receiver Dez Bryant on April 13 and a little a more than a year after the departure of longtime quarterback Tony Romo.
The threesome had been the face of the franchise for much of the past decade.
No Cowboys team has suited up without one member of the triumvirate since 2003.
Witten’s retirement last week put the final cap on the past.
Certainly, linebacker Sean Lee is still around.
But this is the dawning of a new day with quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott firmly entrenched as the young kings of the franchise and new leaders on the block.
Add in the league’s best offensive line, including Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, along with the addition of second-round pick Connor Williams, and vice president Stephen Jones doesn’t look at the Cowboys as a team in transition but rather one that is simply resetting its chess pieces with the same goals in place.
“Jason, Dez and Tony — they have been synonymous with the Cowboys' last 10 years,” Stephen Jones said. “But at the same time, we have young players who are coming with Zeke, Dak and the offensive line. And lot of young guys to point to now. I don’t look at it as a transition as much I do as just resetting.”
In his retirement speech last Thursday, it was Witten who challenged the Cowboys to carry on and take things to the next level without him.
“To the young bucks …you men energized me,” Witten said. “These last four or five years have been special. I am proud of what we did together. Now it’s your turn to lead. I know you are ready. You have earned that right and respect. I challenge you take it to the next level and do it in a way that makes all of us proud.”
That starts today.