SAN ANTONIO – Dallas Cowboys veteran tight end Jason Witten has decided to retire and join Monday Night Football as a television analyst, ESPN reports.
The 11-time Pro Bowler has been contemplating the decision to retire for the last week before finally making it official on Thursday.
The ESPN report says Witten has told owner and general manager Jerry Jones as well as coach Jason Garrett of his decision, ultimately deciding not to return for a record 16th season with the Cowboys.
Witten retires tied with Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei as the longest tenured players in team history. According to ESPN he is the all-time Cowboys leader in games played, consecutive games played, starts, catches and receiving yards and is fourth in NFL history in catches behind Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald. Tony Gonzalez is the only tight end with more receiving yards than Witten in NFL history.
Last season however Witten had only 63 catches for 560 yards, the lowest since his rookie year. He scored five touchdowns.
The Cowboys drafted Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz in the fourth round. The Cowboys now have Schultz, former Texas Longhorn Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers on the depth chart at tight end.
ESPN said as an analyst for Monday Night Football, Witten will return to AT&T Stadium on Nov. 5, when the Cowboys host Tennessee.