'Monday Night Football' connection: Jon Gruden, Raiders sign former Cowboys TE Jason Witten

Jon Gruden hasn’t met many old veteran players he doesn’t like.

Still, signing former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a bit odd. But the Las Vegas Raiders did it anyway, getting Witten on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $4.75 million according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.

One of the funny aspects of the deal is that Witten replaced Gruden in ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” booth when Gruden took the Raiders coaching job. Witten came out of retirement to play for the Cowboys again last season, and now will join up with Gruden in Las Vegas.

The Raiders added a second former Cowboy on Tuesday afternoon, agreeing to a deal with defensive tackle Maliek Collins, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. That signing made a little more sense than adding Witten.

Longtime Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will play for the Raiders in 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Longtime Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will play for the Raiders in 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Where does Jason Witten fit on Raiders?

The Raiders are as well stocked at tight end as any team in the NFL.

Darren Waller broke out with 1,145 yards last season. Rookie Foster Moreau had five touchdown catches in a promising rookie season. The last thing the Raiders needed was a veteran at tight end.

It’s not like Witten is going to be playing special teams in his age-38 season, which is what most third-string tight ends have to do. It would be foolish to take playing time away from Waller or Moreau and give it to Witten.

But Gruden got his old veteran.

What does Witten have left?

Witten was surprisingly productive last season considering he was 37 and spent the 2018 season in the broadcast booth.

Witten had 63 catches for 529 yards. He is nowhere near the same player that put together what is sure to be a Hall of Fame resume in his prime, but he was still a viable option.

But the Raiders already had two young tight ends. One was among the best tight ends in football last season and the second was a perfect complement as a young and talented rookie. Witten isn’t a better option than either of them at this point, especially for a team that is still building.

Gruden just couldn’t help himself.

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