Cowboys Legend Jason Witten Retiring To Join ‘Monday Night Football’ Broadcast Booth

(CBS) — The Cowboys are losing another long-time weapon in their passing game, as tight end Jason Witten is planning to retire from football and join ESPN as the primary color guy for “Monday Night Football” in 2018 according to a report from Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

The decision is not final, per Mort, but expected to happen after a meeting with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The Cowboys, who find themselves in a strange transitional period, already lost Dez Bryant this offseason, with the wide receiver being released.

Dallas took linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first-round pick on Thursday night, which was a nice choice, but still leaves their offense a little bare on the skill-position side of things.

The Cowboys have Allen HurnsTerrance WilliamsCole BeasleyRyan Switzer and Deonte Thompson at wide receiver, along with Rico GathersGeoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin at tight end. The cupboard is not stocked for Dak Prescott heading into 2018.

Expect to see the Cowboys heavily target offensive players in Round 2 and Round 3 of the NFL Draft — track all the picks from the 2018 NFL Draft here and watch our coverage on CBS Sports HQ here — with guys like Mike Gesicki (Penn State tight end) and Anthony Miller (Memphis wideout) making a lot of sense for Dallas early on in day two of the draft.

For Witten, the final moment of his career as a Cowboys player was being booed on the stage in Dallas alongside Roger Goodell. Shame on you, Cowboys fans! I kid mostly — Witten put together an incredible career since being drafted by Dallas in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Oddly, Witten never led the league in receiving yards or receptions or touchdowns, but he was as steady as they come, never missing a game after moving into the starting lineup in 2004. From 2004 through 2017, he averaged 80 catches and 864 receiving yards per year. He was a top-fight tight end for a decade and would present one of those interesting cases of longevity versus incredible production over the short term when it comes to the Hall of Fame discussion, except he’s a lock to get in.

Witten was an incredibly popular player and is fourth all-time in NFL history in terms of receptions (1,152), trailing only Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez and Larry Fitzgerald. He’s 21st all time in receiving yards (12,448), behind only Tony Gonzalez in terms of tight ends.

He was an 11-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All Pro.

And expect the ESPN gig to only burnish his resume: Witten’s a very personable guy, extremely smart and affable. He will go over very well in the booth, with a eastern Tennessee/Texas twang that people will fall in love with as a broadcaster.

This is a good time for the Cowboys, considering their transition to new personnel with Dak Prescott, and really good time for Witten who could ultimately end up locking down this position for a long time.