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Jason Witten understands if Cowboys use an early pick on TE

Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball past Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second half at AT&T Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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The Cowboys lost James Hanna to retirement Friday. Rico Gathers missed last season with a concussion. Geoff Swaim missed seven games in 2016 with a torn pectoral muscle.

Not to mention Jason Witten turns 36 next month.

So, yes, there’s a chance the Cowboys draft a tight end next week despite not using any of their 30 national visits on one.

Witten insists he’s on board with whatever the Cowboys decide to do in the draft, including taking a player at his position.

“I mean, I understand it,” Witten said of the Cowboys potentially drafting a tight end early, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s happened a few times, three to be exact. That’s part of the business. They’re always going to bring in competition. That’s what this program, that’s what this franchise is all about and what this coaching staff tries to create.

“I’ll help them and embrace them and moving them along as quickly as I can. That doesn’t really affect what I’m trying to do as a whole.”

The Cowboys have not had much success using second-round picks on tight ends to pair with Witten. They drafted Anthony Fasano in the second round in 2006, Martellus Bennett in the second round in 2008 and Gavin Escobar in the second round in 2013.

Witten’s eventual replacement already could be on the roster. Gathers has provided some evidence that he could become the latest basketball convert. The former Baylor basketball player starred in the preseason before a head injury sent him to injured reserve for the year. After two seasons spent learning and watching, Gathers will get a chance to prove he’s ready.