After an offseason of deliberation about his playing future, it seems that Jason Witten has made his decision.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen the Cowboys all-time great TE is set to retire to pursue a career in broadcasting, linking up with ESPN's Monday Night Football crew.
Witten's move comes as a surprise to the Cowboys, who recently released Dez Bryant and suddenly have very little veteran presence in their receiving corps.
The 11-time Pro Bowler met with owner Jerry Jones Friday, and though no decision is final, it appears as though he's set on walking away from the game.
"[Witten] has some things to think about and discuss with his family from a professional perspective," Jones said, per Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. "He also told me that those things are going to require a few more days of consideration, at least through the weekend.
"He's not made any decisions that are definite at this time, we have no announcement today, as it pertains to Jason's future other than to say that he's a wonderful, valued member of our organization and our family. With respect to Jason and his wishes, this is all we're going to say regarding that subject for the remainder of the weekend."
The potential loss is an enormous one for Dallas, not just on the field, but in the locker room too.
A third-round pick out of Tennessee in 2003, Witten has established himself as one of the premier tight ends in history during his 15 year stint in with the Cowboys.
He made 11 Pro Bowls, four All Pro teams, and owns a plethora of NFL and franchise receiving records.
The 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year featured in 239 total games, hauling in a mammoth 1,152 catches which is a franchise-leading mark and places him fourth in NFL history.
Witten is also the Cowboys franchise leader in receiving yards with 12,448, leaving him second only to Tony Gonzalez amongst tight ends. The 35-year-old's 68 touchdown receptions only trails Dez Bryant (73) and Bob Hayes (71) in team history.
He also owns NFL records for the most receptions in a single season by a tight end (110 in 2012) and most receptions in a single game by a tight end (18 in 2012).
Witten's production has been nothing short of elite throughout his Hall of Fame level career, but his play has been on the decline in recent years. He's failed to notch 1,000 receiving yards since 2012, contributing just 560 in 2017- his lowest total since his rookie year.
It's obvious he lacks the burst he once had, and he's no longer able to beat man coverage on a consistent basis.
Nevertheless, his loss is damaging to the Cowboys and will make a big impact on the franchise going forward. A veteran leader in the locker room, and a reliable pass catcher on the field even into his latter days, Witten is a likely first ballot Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the greats of the game at his position.
Tight end suddenly becomes a position Dallas simply must address on day three of the NFL draft.News Now - Sport News