Farewell By Stephen Siracusa 

By
Updated: May 4, 2018
Jason Witten is planning to retire after 15 years in the NFL, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, “to join ESPN’s new Monday Night Football broadcast team as a lead analyst.”
However, he will be meeting with team owner Jerry Jones  “before making his decision final,” per Mortensen.

After the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the third round of the 2003 draft, Witten became one of the most consistent tight ends in the league. He was named to 11 Pro Bowls and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2007 and 2010.

Witten retires having set Cowboys franchise records in receptions (1,152) and receiving yards (12,448). He’s also one of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history. According to Pro Football Reference, only Tony Gonzalez has more receptions and yards, while Witten’s 68 touchdowns put him at sixth-best for the position.
There’s no questioning Witten’s production over his career, but he was showing clear signs of a decline in recent seasons. He hadn’t cracked 1,000 yards receiving since 2012, and his 560 receiving yards in 2017 marked his lowest total since his rookie year.

Bleacher Report’s Marcus Mosher questioned whether Witten’s lack of explosiveness was hurting the offense as a whole:Still, Witten’s departure will leave a void in the passing game. He hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year, so the Cowboys haven’t had to give much thought to the tight end position for over a decade. Because of that, Dallas may have to look outside the team for Witten’s replacement.

James Hanna announced his retirement earlier in April, and Geoff Swaim has not emerged as a solid pass-catcher. Undrafted free agent Blake Jarwin saw only a limited role in his first season.
Still, Witten’s departure will leave a void in the passing game. He hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year, so the Cowboys haven’t had to give much thought to the tight end position for over a decade. Because of that, Dallas may have to look outside the team for Witten’s replacement.

The 2018 NFL draft may be Dallas’ best bet to find a long-term successor to Witten’s replacement. Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki and Dallas Goedert are among the top tight ends remaining in this year’s draft class, and any one would be a solid addition for the Cowboys offense.

For Witten, he should start getting his Hall of Fame speech ready. As one of the best tight ends of his era, the 35-year-old is a look for enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.