Tight end was one of the few positions that flourished for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019. Nevertheless, they went on to sign veteran Jason Witten this past free agency and so far, the results have been mixed.
Why did the Raiders sign Jason Witten to begin with?
The Raiders’ tight end unit was a productive unit in 2019. Darren Waller had a breakout season and hauled in 90 receptions for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, rookie Foster Moreau had just 20 receptions, but five of them went for touchdowns. Together with Derek Carrier, the group accounted for almost half of quarterback Derek Carr’s 21 touchdowns last year.
As solid as the unit was, the Raiders made the decision to sign Witten in the offseason. They gave him a one-year $4.5 million contract, which ensured he was going to play a big role for the team in 2020. While he is far from the All-Pro he was with the Dallas Cowboys a few years ago, he was still productive in 2019. All in all, he hauled in 63 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Moreover, the Raiders added Witten not just for his play on the field but for his veteran presence as well. The team brought him in with the intention of making him a leader in their locker room. Also, he would serve as a mentor for Waller and Foster and help them become better players.
How has Jason Witten’s signing worked out?
So far, Witten has played on 126 snaps on offense and has hauled in six receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Moreau has been on the field for 81 snaps on offense and has caught four passes for 64 yards and one touchdown. Clearly, the sophomore tight end has been the most productive player of the two. So why are the Raiders still giving more playing time to the veteran?
Vic Tafur of the Athletic came up with an explanation for the Raiders’ decision to give more snaps to Witten. According to him, Witten was going to play regardless of his role as a leader on the team and that would come at the expense of Moreau’s and Carrier’s playing time. Moving forward, the Raiders need to consider giving Moreau more playing time. While the second-year tight end won’t regress on the bench, looking from the sideline won’t do him any favors either.
Looking back, Witten’s production has been limited in 2020. Meanwhile, Moreau is still developing. The Raiders have to think this one through and give the youngster more snaps the rest of the season. It won’t hurt them and in fact, their offense can be even better than it currently is.
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*Top Photo: Las Vegas Raiders Official YouTube Channel