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What's Next For TE: What "Jaws'" Return Means


FRISCO, Texas – As always, this is the uncertain time of the year.

Roughly one-third of NFL rosters turn over every offseason as each club looks for ways to improve its fortunes moving forward. The Cowboys are no different, as they'll face many tough decisions in the coming months.

With that in mind, we're evaluating each position on the roster and what choices face the front office in 2021. Part 5 focuses on the tight ends. Today's entry:

The Return Of Blake Jarwin

Twenty-five snaps. One catch for 12 yards.

That was Blake Jarwin's entire 2020 season. In the second quarter of the opener against the Rams, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and had surgery in early October, lost for the year just a few months after signing a three-year extension worth up to $24.2 million as a projected starter for the first time in his career.

"I think I made a lot of headway in camp and I was headed in the right direction to have a big year. And then things happen," Jarwin said in October on the Miller Lite Cowboys Hour with Brad Sham and Dani Sureck. "It's one of those deals that I'll grow from it."

Jarwin had surgery in early October with the goal of being ready for this year's training camp and season opener. A healthy Jarwin in 2021 means yet another weapon for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and an interesting question about the offense's dynamic at this point in the offseason:

How will the offense incorporate two starting-caliber tight ends?

The Cowboys signed Jarwin long-term because they believe he can be viable starter. The 26-year-old has shown he can stretch defenses with a career 11.6-yard receiving average. But third-year tight end Dalton Schultz emerged as a productive starter as Jarwin's injury replacement last season.

Schultz, a fourth-round pick by the Cowboys in 2018, played 84.8% of the offensive snaps and caught 63 passes for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns. He became only the fifth tight end in Cowboys history to post at least 50 catches in a season.

The natural reaction might be, well, play both guys -- a lot. The Cowboys used two tight ends (12 personnel) on 21% of the snaps last season and only 18% in 2019, Moore's first year as coordinator.

Schultz's breakout year and Jarwin's return creates more options for personnel groupings. But just remember, the Cowboys also have one of the best receiving trios in the league: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and 2020 first-round pick CeeDee Lamb. There's a reason the Cowboys went three-wide (11 personnel) 71% of the snaps last season, tied for the sixth-most in the league and well above the 60% league average, according to Sharp Football Stats.

Simply put, it's a great problem for Moore and head coach Mike McCarthy.

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