Tight end Jason Witten is retiring from the NFL for a second, and likely final, time, ESPN reported.
Witten, 38, spent the 2020 season with the Las Vegas Raiders after 16 seasons (2003-17, 2019) with the Dallas Cowboys. He will become a free agent in March, at which point he will sign a one-day contract with the Cowboys and retire, according to the report.
The Tennessee product first retired after the 2017 season to join the ESPN “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth but returned to the Cowboys after one season away.
He didn’t tell ESPN whether he plans to try the broadcast booth again, but he hinted he won’t be far from the game.
“As I hang it up, I walk away knowing that for 17 seasons I gave it my absolute all. I am proud of my accomplishments as a football player on the field and the example I tried to set off of it,” Witten told ESPN. “Football is a great game that has taught me many valuable lessons, and I look forward to passing on that knowledge to the next generation.”
The Cowboys selected Witten in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft and joined Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as the pre-eminent tight ends of his era. He was a two-time All-Pro and 11-time Pro Bowl selection.
Only Gonzalez, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has more catches and yards at tight end.
He played 271 games at tight end, more than any other player at the position, and will retire with 1,228 catches, 13,046 yards and 74 touchdowns scored. He is fourth all-time in the NFL in receptions behind wide receivers Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald, and Gonzalez.
With the Raiders in 2020, he played in all 16 games (seven starts) and caught 13 passes for 69 yards with two scores. He is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions (1,215) and yards (12,977), and is second in touchdown catches (72). Witten also played in a franchise-record 255 games with the Cowboys, including a team-record 245 starts.