Cowboys was hit with a surprise retiring by Jason Witten

Witten is staying put

It is unknown what has caused this change of heart (besides ESPN money) but his retirement would seriously put a damper on the Cowboys draft plans.

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 was a constant at the captains' workouts at The Star, the Cowboys' facility, before the official start of the offseason program.

On Friday afternoon Jerry Jones read a prepared statement with some ad-lib about where the team stands with Witten.

Witten was a 15 year veteran for the Dallas Cowboys, and is planning to be the head analyst for ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast.

The presence of the phrase "a lead analyst" in the de facto announcement suggests that there could be another analyst in the booth, making it potentially a three-person operation. "He has not made any decisions that are definite at this time".

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. All-American tight end Tony Gonzalez is the only one to have more receptions and yards at the tight end position. The club released receiver Dez Bryant, the club leader with 73 TD grabs, in a cost-cutting move. And Witten is the most accomplished of them all. He caught just 30 passes previous year, his lowest total since his rookie season. The 35-year-old (36 next month) hasn't missed a game since 2003 and has finished with 60 or more catches in 14 straight seasons.

The Cowboys now must determine whether the tight end position becomes a priority for the second and third rounds of the National Football League draft Friday night. The Cowboys could use some of that mid-round capital to draft one of the remaining pass-catchers available, but they also want to stay competitive in the Earl Thomas sweepstakes, and surely a draft-pick-needy Seahawks team would like some of those picks in return.

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