Ex-Cowboys TE Jason Witten, Raiders Reportedly Agree to 1-Year Contract

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2020

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) warms up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

Jason Witten will return for a 17th NFL season, though it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.

The veteran tight end has agreed to a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Todd Archer of ESPN reported Witten will sign a one-year deal that could be worth up to $4.75 million.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden called the signing "a no-brainer," noting the longtime star's work ethic and leadership.

"There's nothing he still can't do," Gruden told ESPN's Ed Werder.

Witten had spent his entire NFL career in Dallas after the franchise selected him in the third round of the 2003 draft.

Witten retired following the 2017 season and spent the next year as an announcer for Monday Night Football, but he made a surprise return to the sport last February.

He started all 16 games for the Cowboys in 2019, ranking third on the team with 63 catches and four receiving touchdowns and fourth with 529 receiving yards.

Although he never topped 60 receiving yards in a game, he was a consistent presence with at least one catch every week and at least three receptions in 13 contests last year. His contributions as a blocker and receiver helped the Cowboys finish the year No. 1 in the NFL in total yards.

However, Witten's yardage was his lowest since his rookie season, and the team didn't find the success he had hoped for after it finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

"I apologize to the Dallas Cowboys fans out there," he said after his team's final game in Week 17, per Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated. "I came back to try to help this football team compete for a championship, and we found out today that we won't have that opportunity. And that hurts."

Witten has only competed in eight playoff games in his first 16 seasons, winning two.

Still, he had no regrets about returning and had a positive self-assessment.

"I was proud of the way I was able to play all year," Witten said, per Patrik Walker of CBS Sports.

His level of play and drive to win a championship were enough for him to suit up for at least one more season.

The 37-year-old is already one of the top players at his position in NFL history, ranking fourth all time with 1,215 catches behind only Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald and Tony Gonzalez. His 12,977 receiving yards are the second-most ever for a tight end, behind Gonzalez.

An 11-time Pro Bowler, Witten is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when eligible, but he will continue to add to his resume.