Cowboys to Begin Contract Talks with Key Offensive Free Agent: Report

Dallas Cowboys offensive huddle

Getty Dallas Cowboys offensive huddle

Though unclear who will be throwing him the ball, or lining up beside him, tight end Blake Jarwin is destined to return to Dallas.

NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported at the Scouting Combine on Tuesday that the Cowboys will initiate contract discussions with Jarwin’s reps in Indianapolis this week.

Because Jarwin is a restricted free agent, it’s highly unlikely he departs Big D. Unlike a restricted free agent, the 26-year-old cannot negotiate with an outside team unless the Cowboys allow him to. They can, and will, use one of four tenders — first-round, second-round, original-round, or right of first refusal — to ensure he stays put.

A 2017 undrafted free agent by way of Oklahoma State, Jarwin has been buried in obscurity during his first three professional seasons. When he wasn’t taking a backseat to Jason Witten, the 6-foot-5 pass-catcher was fighting for scraps in a committee approach.

Following a mostly redshirt rookie campaign, Jarwin made 16 appearances (four starts) in 2018, logging 27 catches for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Witten’s unretirement this past season pushed Jarwin down the depth chart, and the result was another nondescript year: 31 receptions, 365 yards, three TDs.

He flashed potential, however, especially toward the end of the 2019 season, when it became clear that 37-year-old Witten was (literally) on his last legs.

Entering 2020, Jarwin is among just two Dallas tight ends under contract, along with 2018 fourth-rounder Dalton Schultz. Witten, a UFA, appears likely to move on to greener pastures.

Despite Jarwin’s presence, the Cowboys are expected to fortify the position via free agency or the draft, for which they hold six total selections, including three in the top-100.

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Cowboys Meet Potential Cooper Replacement at Combine

With three wide receivers careening toward free agency, including leading receiver Amari Cooper, the Cowboys have started their homework on the 2020 draft class.

According to reports, the Cowboys informally interviewed USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. at the Scouting Combine and will host the 6-foot-4 pass-catcher on an official top-30 visit this offseason.

A four-year contributor (2016-19) for the Trojans and the son of former Super Bowl champion Michael Pittman, Jr. exploded onto the national scene last season by catching 101 passes for 1,275 yards, and 11 touchdowns, earning first-team All-Pac-12 and second-team All-American honors.

Pittman could be taken as early as the second round in April’s draft. The Cowboys currently hold the No. 51 overall pick, and should be on the lookout for receiving help with Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Tavon Austin scheduled to hit the open market on March 18.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL