It’s a done deal. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has informed owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett that he will retire in order to join the Monday Night Football broadcast booth, multiple sources tell Todd Archer of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
Witten first informed the Cowboys of the offer to join MNF before the draft, but Jones implored Witten to think it over for a few days. Although it was believed from the get-go that Witten would follow through on retirement, the veteran struggled with the decision for the last week, Archer hears.
Witten leaves the game with the fourth-most catches in NFL history (1,152) behind only Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez, and Larry Fitzgerald. He’s also leaving football without the Super Bowl ring he has chased since 2003, which is probably part of what made the decision difficult for him.
Top tier broadcasting jobs such as the color commentary position in the Monday Night Football booth rarely become available and Witten did not want to let this opportunity pass him by. He’s also not taking much of a pay cut – he would have earned $6.5MM in total from the Cowboys this year, but ESPN will pay him in the range of $4MM to $4.5MM.
Witten was a hot commodity in broadcasting this year as another mystery network also pursued him. Witten ultimately settled on ESPN, meaning that each of the NFL’s big three broadcasting partners will employ ex-Cowboys as their top color commentators.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.