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Jason Witten to un-retire, leave Monday Night Football booth

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This raises some salary cap questions for the Cowboys.

We might see some improvement in ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth this fall. Retired tight end Jason Witten is leaving the booth after a sub-par first season to un-retire and re-join the Dallas Cowboys.

Witten retired after decent 2017 season in which he caught 63 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns. Not his usual production, but very solid for the then 35-year old tight end. He turns 37 in May, and it will be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank. Their offense could use a boost, and if he is anything close to what he was even at the end of his career, it will provide an upgrade.

For the rest of us, it means a shake-up after one very mediocre year of Monday Night Football. He very well might have improved, but for one season, it was not good. ESPN could promote Booger McFarland into the booth, could make a run at Greg Olsen or Matt Hasselbeck, could bring Louis Riddick into the broadcast booth, could maybe try and get Peyton Manning, or a host of other things.

Where this gets interesting from a football perspective is the Cowboys salary cap.

They are expected to pay Witten $5 million, and they have quite a few decisions to make. They have roughly $49.4 million in cap space, and that would drop to $44.4 million with Witten’s return. If they tag Lawrence, they’ll be looking at a one-year salary of $18,653,000. I suspect this might speed up negotiations to figure out a more palatable number, but as it stands, that brings them down to roughly $26.6 million in cap space. They can sign Thomas and figure out a deal with Dak, but they might be pushing it if they don’t get a deal done with Lawrence that lowers the cap figure from a potential franchise tag tender.

All that is to say, maybe they won’t be able to offer Earl Thomas quite as much as they might otherwise.