Witten will now reportedly become an analyst for ESPN on Monday Night Football.
It's simply too prestigious of a gig for Witten to pass up in order to play what would have been a 16th season in the National Football League in 2018.
Witten caught 1,152 passes for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns in his career, making 11 Pro Bowls, and he hopes to be remembered as a role model on and off the field.
In addition, the 35-year-old leaves the game ranked fourth all-time in receptions, only behind the likes of Jerry Rice (1,549), Tony Gonzalez (1,325) and Larry Fitzgerald (1,234) as well as holding a number of records such as most receptions in a single season by a tight end (110) and most catches in a game by a tight end (18). Tony Romo, the Cowboys' quarterback from 2006 to 2015 and a close friend of Witten's, retired a year ago and also headed to the broadcast booth. No one in the history of the Cowboys was more available on Sundays than Witten, who left as the Cowboys all-time leader in seasons, games played, consecutive games played, games started and consecutive starts.
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"He's one of the best and most complete tight ends ever to play this game", Garrett said.
Witten will still be around the sport as he will join ESPN's Monday Night Football as an analyst. Without Witten, more of that responsibility will fall on Prescott, who is entering his third season.
As he steps away, Witten's legacy with the team is secure. "The stats and the credentials speak for themselves. Over the last 15 years, he's played virtually every play".
Witten wrestled with the decision for the past week, alternating nearly hourly between taking the job and playing a record 16th season for the Cowboys, sources said. "This is why he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer". However, he hoped that he compensated himself with his performances for the Cowboys over the years. On Saturday, the Cowboys drafted Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz in the fourth round.
"After much self-reflection, prayer and faith, I have decided the time has come for me to pass the torch and retire", Witten said. "When you're in those moments, those other things didn't really exist, so I think that had a lot to do with it".