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5 Cowboys greats who finished their careers elsewhere

Jason Witten could join Jason Garrett in New York which is an opportunity to remember some Cowboys stars who ended their careers without the star on their helmet.
Credit: AP
Seattle Seahawks Ken Hamlin, left, stops Arizona Cardinals runningback Emmitt Smith after a short gain during the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A report from ESPN's Chris Mortensen emerged on Sunday which stated that Dallas Cowboys future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten might play his 2020 season with the New York Giants.

If the man who has played more games for the Cowboys than anyone else in franchise history left for the team's NFC East rival, it wouldn't be the first time a meritorious player such as Witten let the adventure continue in another NFL city. 

Here are five other Cowboys as great or greater than Witten who didn't finish out their careers with Dallas:

1. Running back Emmitt Smith — When Bill Parcells took over the Cowboys in 2003, he released the NFL's all-time leading rusher. As a result, the three-time Super Bowl champion had to finish his career with the Arizona Cardinals. 

"I am not a guy that is afraid of competition," Smith said at the time. "I walk up and face it full throttle. I will help someone's organization get to the Super Bowl, get back to the Super Bowl or win the Super Bowl." 

Smith played 25 games for the Cardinals from 2003-04, starting in 20 of them, and carried 357 times for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns. He even threw a halfback pass for a 21-yard touchdown – the first and only passing TD of his illustrious career – in his last NFL season. Arizona finished 4-12 and 6-10 with Smith.

2. Running back Tony Dorsett — At least Smith had a better career away from the Cowboys than the former 1977 first-round pick. The Cowboys had a talented, young running back in Herschel Walker that relegated Dorsett to second fiddle in 1987. 

Despite feeling he had more to contribute, the two-time All-Pro believed it could be in another city. In June 1988, the Denver Broncos traded for Dorsett, reuniting coach Dan Reeves, who was Dorsett's position coach when he was a rookie, with the Super Bowl champion. 

Dorsett played all 16 games for the Broncos at age 34 and carried 181 times for 703 yards and five touchdowns. Reeves even had Dorsett attempt two halfback passes with one of them going for a 7-yard touchdown. Denver finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

3. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware — The Cowboys' all-time sacks leader was more of a salary cap casualty than anything else. Ware was going to be 32 years old and came off a regular season where he missed three games, the first time in his career he missed any time. Furthermore, he produced 6.0 sacks, the fewest of his career. 

The Cowboys cut Ware when he wouldn't take a pay cut, and the former 2005 first-round pick landed with the Denver Broncos. Ware bounced back and played 16 games for Denver in 2014 and made the Pro Bowl the next two seasons. In 2015, Ware was reunited with former coach Wade Phillips, who would now be Gary Kubiak's defensive coordinator with the Broncos. Ware won a Super Bowl at the end of the 2015 season, and then called it a career after 2016.

4. Guard and tackle Larry Allen — If one called the roll for every Cowboys offensive lineman who made the Pro Bowl at every position along the line themselves except center, it wouldn't take long; Allen was the only one. From 1994-2005, he personified the excellence of the Dallas blocking unit with 10 Pro Bowls from 1995-2005. The only years he missed with Dallas were his rookie year and 2002 when he landed on injured reserve in November. 

Bill Parcells thought Allen had played past his usefulness in Dallas and released him as he did Emmitt Smith. Allen signed with his hometown San Francisco 49ers and played the next two seasons blocking for running back Frank Gore and quarterback Alex Smith. Allen made the Pro Bowl for the Niners in 2006.

5. Cornerback Everson Walls — The former 1981 undrafted free agent finished second only to Mel Renfro in career interceptions with Dallas with 44. As a rookie, "Cubbie" Walls led the NFL with 11 interceptions. Part of the notorious "Thurman's Thieves," Walls made an immediate impact at corner for the Cowboys. With Dallas, he earned four Pro Bowl selections, three All-Pros, and led the NFL in interceptions three times.  

Walls was one of the last bastions of greatness for the Cowboys from the Tom Landry era, even as the luster of the franchise was flecking off like chipped paint in the mid to late 1980s. Walls was even a part of the 1-15 Cowboys of 1989 under first-year coach Jimmy Johnson. 

The Cowboys waived Walls at the end of the season, and he joined the New York Giants, where he ended up winning Super Bowl XXV over the Buffalo Bills thanks to kicker Scott Norwood's wide right field goal attempt. 

After another season with New York, Walls played 1992-93 with the Cleveland Browns finishing his career with 57 interceptions which is tied for 13th all time.

Which player who left Dallas do you most remember fondly? Share your thoughts with Mark Lane on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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