How Much Longer Can Jason Witten Play at This Level?
As of last night, Jason Witten is the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver in terms of receptions. Witten now has 754 receptions, surpassing Michael Irvin’s total of 750.
After a well-publicized slow start in 2012, Witten has caught fire. He has 58 receptions for 538 yards in just eight games. At this pace, he would finish the season with 116 receptions for 1076 yards. He has surpassed more than 1,000 receiving yards three times during his career but has never had more than 96 receptions in a season.
He needs 3,457 yards to surpass Irvin in receiving yards. The question for now: can he last long enough to break the mark?
Somewhat amazingly, Witten is only 30 years old. Many may look at Tony Gonzalez (now 36) to suggest that Witten has five or six more years left in him.
However, Gonzalez is really the exception in terms of durability at the tight end position. Consider these stats:
- In NFL history, tight ends age 30 or older have had at least 50 receptions 45 times. Gonzalez has at least 50 receptions in each season since he turned 30, including the current season.
- Once tight ends reach the age of 33, their production typically falls off considerably. Only six tight ends have had 50 receptions after reaching the age of 33. Gonzalez is one of them, of course, along with former Cowboy Jay Novacek, Pete Metzelaars, , Pete Retzlaff, Shannon Sharpe, and Wesley Walls.
- Only five tight ends age 30 or older have had at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Gonzalez did it twice when he was still with Kansas City.
- The oldest tight end to have 1,000 receiving yards was Retzlaff, who played in Philadelphia during the 1960s.