FRISCO, Texas - Jason Witten spoke at The Star in Frisco Tuesday evening, and while he wasn't there specifically to address his future in the NFL, he did provide a bit of a confirmation on what he prefers to be doing in 2020.
Witten arrived at the Dallas Cowboys headquarters to present the 3rd annual Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award. After extolling the virtues of the three finalists, he was asked about the status of his free agency.
Witten, who will be an unrestricted free agent next month, said as the season closed that he expected his decision to come quickly. But he confirmed that one element of that decision has been firmly made in his mind. "Coaching is in the future, but right now I want to play while I can," Witten said. "We'll see where that takes place."
The 16-year veteran also essentially told the media that whether he remains in Dallas is up to Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys. "Of course I want that to be with the Dallas Cowboys. I'll always be a Dallas Cowboy." But he also seems to understand that his place on the team is not the only decision that the new coach and front office are faced with this off-season. "It's taken a little longer that I had hoped for, but obviously with so many changes inside the building [we're] trying to work through that."
Witten reiterated that he met with McCarthy shortly after the coach was hired. He has not spoken to him since McCarthy put together his coaching staff, but he has been in "constant communication" with Jerry and Stephen Jones. "It's our hope to have those talks soon after the Combine ends, before free agency."
Witten also stated that the players on the roster are a big part of why he wants to play for the Cowboys, not only because of his emotional bond with some of them, but because, he says, he "unemotionally" evaluated the roster and considers the team close to being able to win a Super Bowl. "It's a good football team with a lot of guys that I have spent a lot of sweat and time with."
When asked if he is open to signing with another team, Witten said he felt he "had to be" considering he was determined to continue playing, but that he hasn't actually evaluated the rosters of other teams.
"When you explore that option you want to find somewhere that's the right fit, and you have a chance to win, and you can contribute," Witten explained. "I haven't let my mind go there yet because I want to finish it out here with a star on my helmet."
Witten seems to believe that decision will be made in the next three to four weeks, but he made one thing pretty clear Tuesday evening: If Jason Witten isn't a Dallas Cowboy in 2020, it will be because the Dallas Cowboys don't want him to be.