The New York Jets Should Call the Dallas Cowboys About Jason Witten
All anybody can talk about with the New York Jets of late is not a Hard Knocks reunion or what head coach Rex Ryan said or the paternity situation of Antonio Cromartie. Basically it is all about the quarterbacks and the ongoing battle for the starting job heading into the 2013 season. What nobody has bothered to talk about until recently is the fact that whoever wins that battle may not have any weapons to throw to.
Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith staring at bare cupboard
Dustin Keller is gone. Braylon Edwards is gone. Santonio Holmes could start the season on the PUP list as he continues recovering from a Lisfranc injury in his foot. Stephen Hill is battling knee problems. In a season that will be determined by precise quarterback play, neither Mark Sanchez nor Geno Smith have had an easy time of it in practice thus far. The Jets receiving corps was already shaky when it was mostly healthy last year. As the injuries pile up many people are very afraid the offense is in dire straights even before the season starts. Sanchez admitted without joking that none of the starters know the names of the guys filling in. Instead they've resorted to nicknames. While such wisecracks are fine during the off-season they can become far more serious as the activity picks up. New York already lost both starting guards on their offensive line and this latest receiver problem only makes it worse. Should the team consider an aggressive move to fill some of the void?
Tony Romo and Jason Garrett under watch by Jerry Jones
Another team facing loads of questions are the Dallas Cowboys. Yet their problems don't stem from lacking talent so much as it is not taking proper advantage of the talent they already have. Owner Jerry Jones believes his team is good enough to win the Super Bowl. After back-to-back 8-8 finishes some would suggest that belief is too optimistic. There is no question Dallas has plenty of skill players. The problem is the guys they have running the show aren't getting it done. Tony Romo has one playoff win since taking over in 2006. His Pro Bowl years and good stats have allowed him to keep his job thus far, as explained by the recent contract extension Dallas handed him. Still, two-straight late season collapses punctuated by losing the division title twice to the New York Giants and Washington Redskins has not endeared him to anybody.
Equally on the hot seat is head coach Jason Garrett. People had high hope for the young offensive coordinator when he took over for Wade Phillips in 2010. Two mediocre seasons later and his grip on the job is clearly slipping. Among the "minor" changes being implemented is Garrett is no longer allowed to call plays. His focus will remain on organizing and running the team while coordinator Bill Callahan handles play-calling. It is not a sign that brings any comfort to Cowboys fans.
Punctuating all that is questions surrounding the defense as it switches from their traditional 3-4 scheme to a new 4-3 under coordinator Monte Kiffin. If these changes don't get Dallas over the hump then it's hard for anyone to see Jones not making decisions to overhaul the roster from the top down. In order to do that properly he will need money and draft picks for next year.
Jason Witten has become expendable
A quick way to get both is by trading a high profile player. Some might think Miles Austin, Anthony Spencer or even DeMarcus Ware might make sense but they are either too important or don't have great value because of injuries. Surprisingly, one of their best trade commodities wasn't one until after the draft in April. At that point Jason Witten was the unquestioned go-to tight end. Then Dallas drafted Gavin Escobar out of San DiegoState. The 6'6" kid is viewed by scouts as an outstanding receiving tight end who gets downfield well and has great hands. If he can show improvement in his blocking, then the need for Witten becomes a little less pronounced.
At age 31 the Cowboys star isn't quite over the hill and should have great value in a trade to the right team. The Jets are one such location. They have a glaring need at tight end after the loss of Dustin Keller and having a reliable target who is also a leader in Witten would do wonders for their offense. While a first round pick is out of the question, there is no reason to think Dallas couldn't wrangle a second round choice out of New York if the right stipulations are met. In this way they get an extra high pick in a talented 2014 draft and avoid an $8 million salary cap hit.
As with any such idea, the devil is in the details.