Future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten is retiring from the NFL to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football as an analyst. The news first broke during the 2018 NFL Draft that Witten was contemplating retiring to join ESPN and, despite a final a pitch to convince him stay from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the future Hall of Famer ultimately decided to call it a career.
Jason Witten will be missed in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/d25FPxhA4w
— ESPN (@espn) May 3, 2018
Witten becomes the second Cowboy to retire and take his talents to the broadcast booth. Last year, former Dallas quarterback Tony Romo found success in making his transition from player to broadcaster with CBS. Witten will join a Monday Night Football crew that just lost analyst Jon Gruden, who was hired to coach the Oakland Raiders this offseason.
Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Witten played for an incredible 15 years. Witten made 11 Pro Bowls appearances, earned two First-Team All-Pro selections and won the 2012 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award over the course of his illustrious career. The future Hall of Famer also ranks fourth all-time in receptions and second among tight ends. A model of consistency as an all-around tight end, Witten was as sure handed as it gets, posting a 70 percent or higher catch rate in 10 seasons.
What now for the Cowboys?
With Witten deciding to retire so late in the offseason, the Cowboys are left with a mediocre group of tight ends in Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers. It's also worth noting that Swain is the only player of the three with an NFL catch. Thankfully for the Cowboys, the news broke during the draft and the team was able to adjust their strategy and grab Dalton Schultz in the fourth round.
With so much inexperience at the position, Dallas could look to bring in a veteran option for the 2018 season. Julius Thomas has struggled since leaving the Denver Broncos, but he could be a cheap one-year option for the Cowboys. Another option could be soon-to-be 38-year-old Antonio Gates, who can still be a reliable target on third downs and in the red zone.