Jason Witten announces his retirement

Jason Witten announced his retirement from the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday amid reports he will become an analyst for Monday Night Football.

The tight end, who turns 36 on Sunday, decided to take the job with ESPN rather than return for a 16th NFL season with the Cowboys, according to reports from The Associated Press and ESPN.

Choking up and wiping away tears at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the team’s headquarters in Frisco, Texas, Witten made his retirement official, saying “better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”

“After much self reflection, prayer and faith, today I’ve decided that the time has come for me to pass the torch to the next generation of Dallas Cowboys and retire from the National Football League,” Witten said.

{“url”:”https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/992117227544461312″,”author_name”:”Dallas Cowboys”,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/dallascowboys”,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”&#gt;LIVE: Jason Witten retirement press conference from &#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/thestarinfrisco?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”&#gt;@thestarinfrisco&#lt;/a&#gt; &#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYouWitten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”&#gt;#ThankYouWitten&#lt;/a&#gt; &#lt;a href=”https://t.co/kUly1JZqJF”&#gt;https://t.co/kUly1JZqJF&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;– Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) &#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/992117227544461312?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”&#gt;May 3, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;n&#lt;script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;n”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

His departure comes a year after former teammate Tony Romo retired as the Cowboys’ all-time passing leader to become an analyst for CBS.

An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, Witten was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round of the 2003 NFL draft. He leaves as the Cowboys’ all-time leader in games played, consecutive games played, starts, catches and receiving yards, according to ESPN.

Witten also ranks fourth in the NFL in catches, behind only Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald, with only Gonzalez outpacing him in the category among tight ends.

He had 63 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns last season, and retires with career totals of 1,152 receptions, 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns.

{“url”:”https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/992136845004750848″,”author_name”:”Dallas Cowboys”,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/dallascowboys”,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=”und” dir=”ltr”&#gt;The �&#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYouWitten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”&#gt;#ThankYouWitten&#lt;/a&#gt; &#lt;a href=”https://t.co/96c4TcoTIc”&#gt;pic.twitter.com/96c4TcoTIc&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;– Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) &#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/992136845004750848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”&#gt;May 3, 2018&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;n&#lt;script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;n”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

The Cowboys drafted Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz in the fourth round of this year’s NFL draft and also have Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers as other tight ends on their roster.

Witten will have a chance to cover one game involving his former team this upcoming season, with Dallas scheduled to host a Monday Night Football game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 5.