Jason Witten is 37 years old. In 2019, he had one of the lowest catch totals of his NFL career.
So, the tight end who agreed to terms to play for the Raiders this week isn’t the same player who had a fantastic 16-year career for the Dallas Cowboys that will eventually land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He won’t even be the Raiders’ No. 1 tight end. That will be Darren Waller, who had a breakout season in 2019.
Yet Witten appears hungry to keep proving himself.
After retiring in 2017 and spending a year as a broadcaster, he came out of retirement to re-sign with Dallas and played all 16 games in 2019. He caught 63 passes (tied for the second fewest in his career) for 529 yards and four touchdowns.
The two-time first-team All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowler has had four seasons of 1,000 or more yards and four times has had 90 or more receptions. He has 1,215 catches, 12,977 yards, 72 touchdowns and has averaged 10.7 yards per catch. He ranks No. 2 all-time in receiving yards (behind Tony Gonzalez’s 15,127) and is also No. 2 in receptions behind Gonzalez (who has 1,325).
The Raiders have a pair of good young tight ends in Waller and second-year man Foster Moreau, so Witten isn’t about to become Derek Carr’s main target.
Still, Witten can be a productive force on and off the field, providing strong play and a strong presence in helping develop Waller and Moreau.
According to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, Witten will get a one-year deal for as much as $4.75 million.
Witten wanted to be the starter in Dallas, but couldn’t get that guaranteed, so he decided to try elsewhere. He recently told a reporter, “I just want to exhaust every opportunity to play” and to get one more shot at a Super Bowl.
He’s not the Witten of 10 years ago, but he could still be a valuable piece of the Raiders offense in 2020.