Witten's Decision: Why the veteran tight end exchanged the Star for the Shield

Prior to the Las Vegas Raiders announcing the team had signed Jason Witten, No. 82 felt like one of the few athletes fans and analysts assumed would only ever don one uniform; but this offseason, the veteran tight end made the decision to exchange the Dallas Cowboys' silver and blue for the Silver and Black.

"It does feel weird to be in new colors," Witten joked.

He spoke with Raiders.com during Media Day about why he made the choice to swap the star for the Shield — and a lot of it had to do with legacies.

"I picked the Raiders because they're a historic franchise," Witten said. "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."

The numbers speak for themselves: Eleven Pro Bowl appearances, two First-Team All-Pro selections, nearly 13,000 yards, and 72 touchdowns. But while his Canton bust is a sure bet to be cast, he's still interested in adding more to his Hall of Fame resume.

"This is a new opportunity," Witten said. "This franchise has a great history and I think it's a hungry team with an exciting future. I'm just honored and humbled to be a part of it."

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On paper, it's easy to ponder the Raiders' decision to sign the 17-year veteran. The tight end room already has two capable and athletic players in Darren Waller and Foster Moreau, with the do-it-all Derek Carrier also waiting in the wings.

But it's difficult to underestimate the leadership and knowledge Witten can bring to the table, and the whole team benefits from a player that has done it the right way for so many years. And all those weapons around him helped with selling Witten on the Raiders.

"I'm really impressed with the tight end group. I think it starts with Darren Waller," Witten said. "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.

"It transfers over to Foster [Moreau]. 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."

While Witten undoubtedly has more years behind him than ahead, he's not here to just play professor. He's ready to be an effective weapon and make an impact now, and for as long as he wants to play.

"The future is bright here in Las Vegas."

Head out to Henderson, Nev., for another day of workouts at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center.

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