Big trades almost never happen most years in the NFL but every once in awhile there is a series of events that transpire that could lead to such a thing happening. With their salary cap remaining a big problem could the Dallas Cowboys find some needed relief by trading Jason Witten to the New England Patriots?
Gavin Escobar grants the Cowboys options on Witten
Why would Dallas trade Jason Witten? The Pro Bowl tight end comes off his best season as a pro with 110 catches for 1,039 yards. He hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2003 and he is the favorite target of quarterback Tony Romo. The simplest answer is money. Dallas has loads of salary cap issues. It took reworking a number of contracts, including Witten’s, just to get below the cap for 2013. Those problems don’t figure to go away anytime soon. The cap number on Witten will double in 2014. As a whole the Cowboys will have over $143 million committed to contracts at that point. Not good when the 2013 cap line was $123.9 million. That means the team may have to make some hard decisions in order to save money. Witten isn’t the first choice but his trade value combined with the potential relief are hard to ignore. Also helping along the idea is how the team drafted promising rookie Gavin Escobar out of San Diego State, rated highly as a receiving tight end who can attack the middle of a defense. Witten is far more proven but also more expensive. By shipping out his contract they save over $8 million. At age 31 he is not in immediate danger of slowing down either, especially with his proven durability. That creates trade viability.
Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski disasters haunting the Patriots
So why the Patriots? Isn’t it obvious? A team that once featured the best tight end tandem in pro football has watched it disintegrate before their very eyes. Rob Gronkowski develops a longer and longer list of medical issues that culminated in back and forearm surgeries this off-season. Far worse, Pro Bowler Aaron Hernandez got cut hours after news broke he was being charged for the murder of a 27-year old man. While that is a far more important issue at hand, it’s hard to ignore New England has been left high and dry. Not only is Wes Welker gone and Gronkowski hurt, but losing Hernandez has drastically limited the options for Tom Brady in the middle of the field, an area he loves to attack every Sunday. Early whispers have them moving recent addition Tim Tebow to that spot but that is not likely or practical. Their best hope is that one of the five other tight ends on the roster can step up, but that is not reasonable to expect. Jake Ballard hasn’t played in over a year because of a knee injury and wasn’t close to the level of Gronkowski or Hernandez when healthy. The rest don’t have productive stats worth mentioning.
That is why a trade may be their only way out. Brady is 35-years old and running out of time to win a fourth championship. New England must give him every chance they can to function at the high level he has or they risk regressing at the worst possible time. Making a deal for Jason Witten from the Dallas Cowboys would certainly help.