Why Did Witten Pick The Raiders?
FRISCO - We can't really tell the story of "Why Jason Witten Picked The Las Vegas Raiders'' without making it clear that he did so only after the Dallas Cowboys failed to "pick him.''
After 16 years in a Dallas uniform, Witten waited and waited this offseason for new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy to reach out with positive news regarding a 17th year wearing The Star.
That positive call never happened ... leaving Witten to combine with Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden to execute a bit of a shocker.
“I picked the Raiders because they’re a historic franchise,” Witten said, per Raiders.com. “I felt like this was a young team that’s hungry, good guys. Coach Gruden and his staff – I believe 100-percent in them. It’s a good fit for me and where I’m at in my career. So, I’m excited to join this team and all the young talent.”
Our belief is that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones favored the retention of Witten; Jerry views him as "one of the top five people I've ever been associated with'' and thinks of him as a real-life "John Wayne.''
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But Witten's real value here would've been as a mentor ... and while he was that in 2019, he was also a bottleneck that got in the way of playing time for young Blake Jarwin, who takes over this year as Dallas' first-team tight end.
In Vegas, he'll have to give way to a younger standout in 27-year-old Darren Waller. He may also play behind second-year man Foster Moreau.
“I’m really impressed with the tight end group,'' he said. "I think it starts with Darren Waller. What an absolute freak guy he is. He’s athletic and talented and the future is extremely bright for him. He’s still extremely young at his position, so he can do it all. He can run, he can catch and he’s smart, and wants to be great.''
And of Moreau, Witten added: “It transfers over to Foster. Going into his second year ... I thought he had a really good rookie season. He loves football, he’s hungry and they’ve been sponges in the meeting room.”
READ MORE: Witten Leaves Cowboys To Join Raiders
Witten accomplished so much the Cowboys: 11 Pro Bowl appearances, two first-team All-Pro selections, nearly 13,000 yards and 72 touchdowns. But now, at 38, we believe he's picking something else: A path into coaching, mentoring the likes of Waller and Moreau by being mentored himself by Gruden.