Tom Brady isn’t the only legendary player who will likely end his career away from the team that he started with, after this offseason. Jason Witten is no longer a Dallas Cowboy. Rather than retire for a second time, he’s now a Las Vegas Raider.
Tight end wasn’t a huge need for Las Vegas. The team got a breakout season from Darren Waller in 2019. He caught 90 passes for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns in 2019, and his trajectory is heading up.
Witten is a team chemistry addition. He’s always been known as an incredible teammate and leader. As Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock continue to try and rebuild the Raiders’ culture, bringing in Witten can’t hurt.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) April 16, 2020
That may be up for debate, of course. Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, John Mackey, Mike Ditka, Ozzie Newsome, Shannon Sharpe, and Kellen Winslow are among the legendary tight ends that could certainly make good cases for those coveted four spots. Still, Witten is an all-time great. Mayock’s full quote from a conference call with reporters, via ProFootballTalk:
“Here’s the way I look at it, and I think Jon [Gruden] and I looked at it the same way: If there’s a Mt. Rushmore of NFL tight ends, he’s on it,” Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock said on a conference call Tuesday. “I know he’s 37 years old, and I know we have a pretty good tight end room, but when you talk about bringing in a guy like him, not only can he still play — he had over 60 catches but blocked the backside — he’s still a competitive football player. But on top of that, he brings this wealth of knowledge about how to be a professional.
“You guys got tired of me talking about foundation players last year and the locker room and culture, and that’s what this guy is. He’s the quintessential culture guy, and we plug him in our locker room, and we’ve got one more veteran that can look around the room and tell people, with all that experience, what to do and what not to do. Tell people what to do and what not to do. And more importantly, the tight end room, you get a guy like Foster [Moreau] coming off the ACL, hopefully he’s going to be 100 percent Day One, but if he’s not, we’ve got a conventional Y that can play. Plus, we’ve got a guy in that tight end room that I think is going to help the young guys, and I’m talking about all of them. . . . We just thought it was too good of an opportunity both for our locker room and for our tight end room, and by the way, the guy can still play a little bit.”
Wherever you rank Jason Witten all-time, his place in football history isn’t up for debate. Witten has started every game he’s played since 2007, and retirement season aside, missed one game his rookie year. That is it.
He has 1,215 career catches for 12,977 yards and 72 touchdowns. He’s an 11-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro. He was also pretty productive last season, with 63 catches for 529 yards and four touchdowns.
Whatever his role is, Jason Witten will be an asset for the Raiders in 2020.
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