Cowboys' Jason Witten Retiring To Join ESPN

Jason Witten at the 2018 Pro Bowl

Jason Witten at the 2018 Pro Bowl

But on Thursday, Witten announced his retirement from the NFL in order to fill the empty color analyst seat on ESPN's Monday Night Football crew.

Witten, who turns 36 on Sunday, could not be reached for comment.

The career Cowboy informed owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett after struggling with the decision, multiple sources told Archer.

The stats Witten accumulated over his 15 years leave him atop not only Dallas's franchise leaderboard, but also among the NFL's greatest pass catchers of all-time. He will have played in each of the last 235 games of his career - every one since Week 6 of his rookie season in 2003, with his one missed game coming due to the aforementioned broken jaw. When he played in his 11th Pro Bowl in January, he tied Bob Lilly for the most in team history. He ranks fourth in receptions all time behind only Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald.

With Witten joining ESPN - and Tony Romo and Troy Aikman already planted at CBS and Fox, respectively - three of the four National Football League rightholders now feature a former Cowboy as the analyst on their lead broadcast team. Play-by-play voice Sean McDonough left Monday Night Football after two seasons in March to return to calling college football games in the fall.

Witten is third on the Cowboys' list with 68 touchdown catches.

Earlier on Wednesday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said there was no timeline on when Witten would make a decision. Last year, Romo had lost his job to Dak Prescott while injured and was deciding whether to continue his career with another team. "I was never the most talented, never the flashiest, I relied on grit".

The Cowboys are high on Blake Jarwin and hope that former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers can develop after missing his entire second season with a concussion.

"(Witten is) simply the best example of what you want a football player and person to be, on and off the field", Garrett said. "When you're in those moments, those other things didn't really exist, so I think that had a lot to do with it".

"No man knows when his time has come to walk away".

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