Witten said Wednesday that he will retire from professional football, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. Once his one-year deal with the Raiders officially expires in March, Witten plans to sign a one-day contract with the Cowboys, allowing him to retire as a member of the organization in which he spent the first 16 seasons of his career. The 38-year-old tight end finishes up a potential Hall of Fame career with 1,228 catches for 13,046 yards and 74 touchdowns in 271 games.
Witten totaled 13 receptions (on 17 targets) for 69 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games during the 2020 season, though he was not targeted in the Raiders' Week 17 finale against the Broncos. Witten set the NFL record for career games played by a tight end as a 38-year-old to close out his one-year deal in Las Vegas, but he was rather unproductive in 404 offensive snaps this season, while fellow TE Foster Moreau's development likely suffered as a result. A second retirement announcement could be on the horizon for Witten, though he's not yet made a decision on his future in football.
Witten caught two of five targets for 12 yards in Saturday's 26-25 loss to the Dolphins. Witten's five targets more than doubled his previous season high, but his 2.4 yards per target made for a forgettable performance while No. 1 tight end Darren Waller caught five passes for 112 yards. Having been eliminated from the playoff race, the Raiders might finally decide to give a handful of Witten's ineffective reps to Foster Moreau behind Waller in Week 17 against the Broncos.
Witten failed to haul in his only target during Sunday's 31-28 win over the Jets. Witten's involvement in the Raiders' aerial attack has been nearly nonexistent lately with just three total targets throughout the Raiders' past five games, while also logging less than 20 offensive snaps in back-to-back contests. Fellow tight end Darren Waller erupted for 200 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 13 receptions Sunday, combating the offense's struggles on the ground. Witten may be tasked with providing additional run-block support Week 14 after the Raiders averaged just 2.9 yards per carry on 25 rush attempts against the Jets.
Witten was not targeted during Sunday's 43-6 loss to the Falcons. Witten has been targeted no more than twice in a single contest all season, so his lack of involvement on a day the Raiders needed to air it out came as no surprise. The veteran tight end should factor back into the mix primarily as a run blocker Week 13 against the Jets.
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