Grading the Las Vegas Raiders additions on offense
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten joins the Las Vegas Raiders after sixteen years with the Dallas Cowboys, interrupted by a rough season in the Monday Night Football announcer’s booth. Witten leaves the Cowboys as one of the most decorated tight ends in the history of the NFL with 11 Pro Bowl appearances, two first-team and two second-team all-pro selections, and one Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award on his resume.
Witten is 19th all-time in receiving yards and second only to Tony Gonzalez among tight ends. If this move came five years ago it would have been one of the deals of the offseason but Witten will be 38-years-old by the time the 2020 season kicks off so the question is why did the Raiders make the move.
If the Raiders were looking to Witten to be their starting tight end then this signing would be given a F but thanks to the emergence of Darren Waller and Foster Moreau that is thankfully not the case. Waller is the unquestioned starter thanks to his breakout season and Moreau was on his way to an excellent rookie season before suffering a torn ACL so Witten is just a depth signing.
The former Tennessee Volunteer did not have a vintage season in 2019 but he still scored four touchdowns and a two-point conversion in 16 games. The Raiders offense struggled in the red zone and even in his advanced age he can still get open when it counts. Of his four touchdowns, three of them came inside the 10-yard line.
We all know how much Gruden loves veteran players and Witten fits the bill of a “Gruden Grinder”, guys who love the game and would play football for free if it came down to it. If Witten provides some veteran leadership to a young locker room and mentors the other talented tight ends on the roster then it’s worth the reported price tag of up to $4.75 million with incentives. But if you are solely looking for stellar production on the field then Witten is unlikely to deliver much.