ESPN hadn’t yet announced what it was going to do on its “Monday Night Football” broadcast team, but it seems it’s taking the Dallas Cowboys’ tight end for the job.
Jason Witten, the longtime Cowboys tight end and one of the most popular players in team history, is planning to retire from the NFL and join “Monday Night Football” as a lead analyst, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN. Mortensen said Witten planned to meet with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones first before making it official.
Jason Witten is planning to retire after 15 years to join ESPN's new Monday Night Football broadcast team as a lead analyst but will meet today with owner Jerry Jones before making his decision final, per sources.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 27, 2018
After their meetings on Friday, NFL Network reported that Witten’s decision will be finalized in the coming days.
#Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s met with TE Jason Witten several times, including today. Jones said Witten will take a few days before making a final decision — tho I’m told that decision has been made and he’s going to TV.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 27, 2018
That’s a massive NFL story, right in the middle of the draft, for a few reasons.
First, it’s a blow to the Cowboys if Witten steps away. The good news for Dallas is it comes down during the NFL draft, and the Cowboys can perhaps draft Witten’s replacement. They have former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers, who has shown some talent in preseason games, but not much else on the roster right now to replace Witten. Witten had 560 yards and five touchdowns last season, and although he was not the same player at age 35, he was still productive. Witten’s planned retirement comes right after the Cowboys cut receiver Dez Bryant. Those are two iconic Cowboys leaving the franchise in just a couple weeks.
It’s also a big story for NFL fans who were wondering what would happen with the “Monday Night Football” broadcast. Jon Gruden left the booth to go coach the Oakland Raiders. ESPN made a push for Peyton Manning, but he said no. Witten, who has been a media favorite for years, follows the same path as his friend and former teammate Tony Romo, who stepped away when he could still play to start a broadcasting career. Shannon Sharpe, another great tight end, also left the NFL when he had some seasons left to give to join CBS.
Witten seems like a good bet to join Sharpe in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He made 11 Pro Bowls. In his 15 seasons with the Cowboys, he posted 1,152 catches, 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns.
The NFL draft is ongoing, and there’s plenty of news being made. But the Cowboys’ all-time great tight end made perhaps the biggest headline of the week.
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