Cowboys free agency 2020: Dallas expected to use high-value tender on Blake Jarwin, but want long-term deal

Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones aren’t the only contracts the Dallas Cowboys are working on. Granted, our original reporting has stated for weeks the Cowboys would allow Jones to hit the open market and likely lose him because of it, thanks to the bidding war that will ensue for his services, but Prescott is guaranteed to land the exclusive franchise tag if no deal is secured by March 12, and that’s one reason the team is pushing hard to get an extension done on Cooper before the legal tampering period begins on March 16. While all of this is going on, there are also 27 other in-house free agents they’re sifting through to determine who stays and who goes, but tight end Blake Jarwin falls in the category of the former.

Sources told CBS Sports the Cowboys lack of an attractive offer being made to Jason Witten is directly tied to their desire to retain Jarwin and possibly make him the No. 1 tight end in Dallas — while also adding a complementary piece in either free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft — and the club met with Jarwin’s representatives at the NFL combine with the hopes of getting something done to keep him in Dallas for the future. 

To that end, seeing as Jarwin is a restricted free agent, the Cowboys are expected to use a second-round tender on the 25-year-old — per Todd Archer of ESPN — worth a projected $3.3 million. Considering Jarwin was initially an undrafted free agent, demanding a team compensate the Cowboys with a second-round pick to woo him away shows exactly how much belief they have in him. Furthermore, a separate source confirms the Cowboys aren’t apt to simply allow Jarwin to play under his tender. 

Their goal remains to sign him to a long-term extension.

“Absolutely,” Jarwin told CBS Sports following the conclusion of the season, when I asked him if he was ready to potentially get the nod as the No. 1 in the Cowboys tight end unit in 2020. “I’m fully confident in myself to be a full-time playmaker in this league. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape right now and I can make a lot of big plays, but I think I can be even better. It’s my job to get back to work, hit it hard and watch a lot of film. 

“I think that’s where it starts. You have to see what you’re not doing very well. I think that’s important. …It pays off in the long run.”

Additionally, and also as expected, the Cowboys will look to tender backup quarterback Cooper Rush — also previously an undrafted free agent — at a lesser tier of $2.1 million. Unlike Jarwin, however, the seat beneath Rush is frailer, and the team will add competition this offseason that could see him become a roster cut casualty before September. Rush was impressive in his first preseason with the team but has struggled mightily since, including having uneven battles with rookie Mike White in the last two seasons. 

While the deal for Prescott gets ironed out, upgrading the seat behind him remains a mission of new head coach Mike McCarthy.

With Witten heavily mulling his NFL future — one that doesn’t include him being a starter for the Cowboys — the team itself is finally executing its past-due plan of looking through the windshield as opposed to staring in the rearview mirror, as Jarwin readies himself to stay put in Dallas in 2020 and likely far beyond. 

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