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Mailbag: Possible Replacements for Witten? Not Enough Mention of Gathers?



If Jason Witten does retire will Dallas start a rookie and some unproven TE's on the roster, or will they go out and sign a veteran free agent like a Julius Thomas?

Rob:If you believe what they've said publicly, they like the young guys they've got. Blake Jarwin in particular is a name we keep hearing. Remember, last year the Cowboys signed him to the 53-man roster, even though they really didn't have a role for him at the time, because they didn't want another team signing him off the practice squad. I think Schultz has a chance to make an immediate impact because he's coming from a pro-style offense at Stanford that asks their tight ends to do some similar things to the Cowboys' offense.

David:I won't try to convince you that the Cowboys won't miss Witten, but I think they're prepared to move forward without any major additions in 2018. I would like at Geoff Swaim as the most well-rounded veteran, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz as promising young players and Rico Gathers as the great unknown. I think you could get through a season with those guys. If they struggle to adapt, you can always spend a big pick on a tight end next spring.



What is the issue with Rico Gathers?  How come his name is not coming up as a legitimate replacement for Jason Witten?

Rob:It's all about the major transition he's still making from basketball. Because of the head injury that landed him on injured reserve, he lost a year of practice time he badly needed. There are important people in the organization that are enamored with his physical ability, though, so I think he'll continue to have a chance to develop. He showed some real progress in preseason before getting hurt.

David:Part of our job is to provide opinion about this team. But another part of the gig is to tell you what we're seeing and hearing around the organization. Go back one week and listen to the answers coming from the likes of Stephen Jones, who lists Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim much quicker than he brings up Gathers. In fact, Jones referred to Gathers as "a work in progress" last week. Clearly, the guy has a fascinating amount of upside. But the Cowboys believe he's got a long way to go before he's a legitimate option to start at tight end. That's why you don't hear people talk about him as much.

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