Jason Witten retiring from National Football League, heading to ESPN

Jason Witten retiring from National Football League, heading to ESPN

Wade Phillips has bounced around the league during his 35-plus years in the NFL, but his longest stint as a head coach came in Dallas with the Cowboys.

"Michele", Jones said as he was lining up for a photo. He emptied the bucket here", Jones said, responding to a question about that missing Super Bowl after speeches by all three on stage: "Witten, Jones and coach Jason Garrett. He exceeded the output of former greats Doug Cosbie and Jay Novacek and will go down as the best at his position in franchise history: He's leaving the team as the franchise leader in receptions (1,152) and receiving yards (12,448), and third in receiving touchdowns (68).

Witten will retire Thursday after a decade-and-a-half of regular-season and playoff disappointments to join his former quarterback Tony Romo in the broadcasting arena. Needless to say, this is a win for Witten.

Ultimately, he opted to retire to start a new chapter in his life after one of the most successful runs in Cowboys history. He had 11 Pro Bowl selections, including last season.

"We want to congratulate Jason Witten on a Hall of Fame caliber career with the Dallas Cowboys and we are thrilled to welcome him to ESPN and Monday Night Football", ESPN executive vice president for content Connor Schell said.

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As we trend toward a split in styles of tight ends, with some of the next generation serving as pure pass-catchers acquired for defensive mismatches and all but ditching blocking responsibilities, Witten was a model of both.

Witten is tied with Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and the late Mark Tuinei for most seasons by a Dallas player.

Most felt Witten would become a coach after his playing days, but he joked that the broadcaster's lifestyle is a little better.

The decision by the franchise leader in games, catches and yards receiving is the same one friend and longtime teammate Tony Romo, the club passing leader in yards and touchdowns, made past year with CBS. Witten only missed one game, the fifth of his career in 2003 because of a broken jaw. The Cowboys don't have a ready made replacement for Witten like they did for Tony Romo when Prescott took over, but the Cowboys did draft Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz in the fourth round with the No. 137 pick.

Dallas tight ends now include Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim.