Jason Witten surprised many in late February when he abruptly ended his retirement and contract with ESPN to return to the Dallas Cowboys.
At the time, Witten said the fire to compete still burned in him, and he wanted to help Dallas’ young core “make a run at a championship.”
After a few weeks with the team in the offseason program, that feeling hasn’t changed.
‘The most talent I’ve seen’
In his first 15 seasons with the Cowboys, Witten and Dallas went to the postseason six times — twice as the NFC’s top seed — but were one-and-done four times and never made it past the divisional round.
But Witten looks at his current teammates and believes greatness is possible.
“The most talent I’ve seen,” Witten said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Dallas, with Dak Prescott at quarterback, Ezekiel Elliott at running back and now Amari Cooper at receiver as well as three Pro Bowl defensive players, rebounded from a 3-5 start in 2018 to win the NFC East, though they did lose in the divisional round to the Los Angeles Rams.
‘It was a long nine months away’
Witten is 37 years old now and isn’t expecting to be the Cowboys’ No. 1 tight end; Witten is expected to share snaps with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. But he was a Pro Bowler in 2017 and has jumped back into offseason workouts.
“It was a long nine months away, and I think we all know how we go into making those decisions like that,” Witten said. “It’s great to get back in there. And having those captains’ workouts really allowed me to fit in. The first five minutes, it’s like ‘OK, this is new.’ But getting acclimated with those guys, [getting] back to work, [putting] your head down. That’s how I tried to approach it. So it’s been a good start. I know I have a lot of work still to do.”
Witten was long one of Dallas’ unquestioned leaders, but while he was away others had to step into the role. He’s not worried about stepping on any toes.
“Fitting in with teammates has never been an issue for me. It’s always been something that came very natural,” Witten said. “It was important for me to reiterate to them early on that this is their team, it’s their time. It’s an opportunity for me to be a part of it.
“I’m still going to be myself. I think that’s what we all want, is for me to come back and approach it that way. But even early on with those guys, I constantly — whether it was Sean [Lee], Dak, different players along the way, Zeke — I always tried to empower, even though I was the elder statesman on the team.”
More from Yahoo Sports: