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Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten expected to retire

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One of the Cowboys' all-time greats appears set to call it a career.

Tight end Jason Witten is expected to retire after a 15-year playing career and join ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast booth as an analyst, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the news first.

"[Witten] has some things to think about and discuss with his family from a professional perspective," said team owner Jerry Jones, who added that he spoke with Witten several times this week. "He also told me that those things are going to require a few more days of consideration, at least through the weekend. He's not made any decisions that are definite at this time, we have no announcement today, as it pertains to Jason's future other than to say that he's a wonderful, valued member of our organization and our family. With respect to Jason and his wishes, this is all we're going to say regarding that subject for the remainder of the weekend."

Witten, 35, would end a prolific career having appeared in 239 games with 229 starts, totaling 1,152 catches for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns.

The 11-time Pro Bowler holds numerous NFL records, including most receptions in a single season by a tight end (110 in 2012) and most receptions in a single game by a tight end (18 in 2012).

Witten's 1,152 career receptions rank fourth behind Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice (1,549), tight end Tony Gonzalez (1,325) and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (1,234). He is second behind Gonzalez in career receiving yards and Pro Bowl appearances by a tight end.

Additionally, Witten established team franchise records, including most career receptions, most career receiving yards and most consecutive seasons with a reception, among others. Witten's 68 career receiving touchdowns ranks third in Cowboys history and fifth all-time among tight ends in NFL history.

Witten, a two-time first-team All-Pro selection (2007, 2010), joined the Cowboys as a third-round pick out of Tennessee in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Witten's departure leaves a void in Dallas' passing game. The Cowboys released wide receiver Dez Bryant leading up to the draft, and the duo combined for 1,398 yards and 11 touchdowns on 132 catches in 2017.

With Witten's impending retirement, and the recent release of Bryant, the Cowboys have seen three cornerstone pieces of the franchise leave since the end of the 2016 season. Quarterback Tony Romo, the team's all-time leader in yards passing (34,183) and passing touchdowns (248) retired in April 2017.

In the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys used the 19th overall selection on linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The Cowboys, however, could look to bolster the tight end and wide receiver positions over the next two days when considering Dallas is armed with nine remaining draft picks.

Dallas' current group of tight ends on the roster includes Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim. Of the trio, Swaim has nine career receptions, while Jarwin and Gathers have yet to haul in a catch.

As the Cowboys prepare for Day Two of the draft, options at the tight end position could include top draft prospects Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews and Mike Gesicki.

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