Freedman: Jason Witten Props and Picks for the 2019 NFL Season
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten
- Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has decided to return to the NFL for his 16th season.
- Matthew Freedman breaks down all the Witten-related 2019 NFL props, including those for his reception, yardage and touchdown totals.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is returning to football. Fans of part-time, past-his-prime, dad-running talent, rejoice.
Last year, news broke on the morning of Day 2 of the NFL Draft that Jason Witten was planning to retire from the NFL.
After a season of generational broadcasting as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football team, Witten announced during the 2019 NFL Combine that he will end his retirement and return to the Cowboys.
I’ll say this about the future Hall of Famer: The man knows how to pick a moment.
What can we expect from Witten after his year away from football? Here are the Witten-related props for 2019 as well as my analysis.
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Will Jason Witten Play in All 16 Games in the 2019 Regular Season?
- Yes: +150
- No: -200
Witten turns 37 years old in May, and it’s ridiculous to project any player that old for a full 16-game season — but Witten is not your average player.
In his 15 years of NFL action, Witten has missed just one game. One. And that was in his 2003 rookie season. Since 2004, he’s been an iron man, suiting up for every game … if we exclude the entire 2018 season.
And it’s possible the year off from football might actually help Witten. Very few players for reasons unrelated to injuries have taken a year off and then returned, but the older players who have — namely, running backs John Riggins (32 years old), Adrian Peterson (30) and Marshawn Lynch (31) — all seemed revitalized after their sabbaticals.
Over the past decade, only three tight ends have played at the age of 37.
- Antonio Gates (2017): 16 games
- Ben Watson (2017): 16 games
- Tony Gonzalez (2017): 16 games
Witten is similar to those three players. Like Witten, Gonzalez was an iron man: He missed just two games in his entire 17-year career. He missed only one game past the age of 30. He’s a top-three all-time player at the position.
Gates is a future Hall of Famer, and although he’s slowed down as he’s aged (just as Witten has), he’s still managed to play in every game over the past two years, at 37 and 38.
Watson isn’t a Hall of Famer, but he’s a respected and savvy long-time veteran. He missed the entire year before his age-37 campaign because of an Achilles injury, but he quickly returned to form in 2017 and has missed only one game since 2012 (excluding his missed 2016 season).
These tight ends who manage to last into their old age are survivors. If they’re healthy enough to stand up, they’re healthy enough to play. And while Gonzalez was an amazing athlete who probably could’ve continued to play into his 40s, it helps Gates and Watson that they played limited snaps in their age-37 seasons.
- Antonio Gates (2017): 31.25 snaps per game, 47.04% snap rate
- Ben Watson (2017): 43.75 snaps per game, 64.52% snap rate
Reportedly, the Cowboys plan to limit Witten’s snaps in 2019, and he’s amenable to that fact.
If Witten is just a part-time player, it’s easy to see how he could play another 16-game season, even at his age.
I’d bet “Yes” down to +125
The Pick: Yes (+150)
Jason Witten: Total 2019 Receiving Touchdowns, Over/Under 3.5
- Over 3.5: -120
- Under 3.5: -120