Jason Witten is calling it a career. The Las Vegas Raiders tight end told Todd Archer of ESPN he is retiring from the NFL after 17 seasons. Witten intends to sign a one-day contract with the Dallas Cowboys in March when his contract with the Raiders expires.
"A coach once told me, 'The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example,'" Witten told ESPN. "As I hang it up, I walk away knowing that for 17 seasons I gave it my absolute all. I am proud of my accomplishments as a football player on the field and the example I tried to set off of it. Football is a great game that has taught me many valuable lessons, and I look forward to passing on that knowledge to the next generation."
Witten, 38, played his first 16 seasons with the Cowboys before joining the Raiders in 2020. He first retired from the league after the 2017 season and spent the 2018 season as ESPN's Monday Night Football analyst. He returned to the Cowboys in 2019 before signing a one-year contract with the Raiders last March. Witten played in all 16 games for the Raiders and caught 13 passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. Raiders coach Jon Gruden loved having Witten on the roster as he was able to mentor Darren Waller, who caught 107 passes for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020.
"I'm so thankful to everybody in the organization, starting with the Jones family, for that opportunity. One of the best decisions I made was listening to my gut to come back and play," Witten said after the 2019 season, which was his final season with the Cowboys. "Sure, that decision can be picked apart in different ways, but I'm really proud of the way I played. I love this game. This game has given so much to me."
Witten was drafted by the in the third round in 2003 from Tennessee. He went on to have a Hall of Fame career, being named to the Pro Bowl 11 times and to the All-Pro Team four times. In his career, Witten caught 1,228 passes for 13,046 yards and 74 touchdowns. His career receptions rank fourth all-time, while his yards rank 13th.