Jason Witten confirms leaving Cowboys to join ESPN, reports say

FRISCO (AP) Dallas Cowboys player Jason Witten has confirmed that he will retire to take a spot in the broadcast booth with ESPN’s Monday Night Football, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer, citing multiple sources. Archer stated that Witten has informed owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett about the decision.

Witten has been in the NFL for 15 years, and will have plenty of expertise as a lead analyst.

Late last week, Jones commented on the situation by saying, “He has some things to think about and discuss with his family from a professional perpsepctive. He also told me those things will require a few more days of consideration, at least though the weekend. He has not made any decisions that are definite at this time.”

The decision appears to have been made. Witten did not show up for Cowboys voluntary practices earlier this week.

This is the second straight year that a Dallas player has retired to go into broadcasting. Former quarterback Tony Romo joined the CBS Sports team as a lead analyst last season. And, with Troy Aikman at FOX Sports, the lead analyst job at three different networks will belong to former players who spent their entire careers with the Cowboys.

Witten’s decision leaves the Cowboys in a curious place, having lost two of their top three players in career touchdown catches over the last month. The club had already released Dez Bryant in a cost-cutting move. Witten leaves the NFL with a franchise leading 1,152 catches and 12,448 yards. He is a 10-time Pro Bowler.

But statistics never really defined the 35-year-old tight end, known for his moral character and determination. His most iconic moment came in a 2007 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. After getting his helmet knocked off by a hit, Witten stayed on his feet and kept running for nearly 30 more yards.