Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten would retire as the highest-earning tight end in NFL history if he leaves football this offseason to accept a broadcasting job with ESPN, as multiple outlets reported on Friday. Witten will meet with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to seek his blessing on the career change.
But leave it to Dallas owner Jerry Jones to explain late Friday night why all three draft picks - Leighton Vander Esch, Connor Williams and Michael Gallup - have given Prescott a better chance to succeed. Jones said he had several conversations with Witten this week and indicated the franchise leader in games, catches and yards receiving hadn't made a final decision.
The news on the second day of the draft could affect Dallas' plans just a week after Witten suggested he might play until he was 40 and meant to return this coming season. If he does retire, he career stats have been more than impressive.
He has the second-most receptions by a tight end in National Football League history and fourth-most overall.
The Cowboys, in short, do not have a replacement for Witten on the roster.
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Witten, who turns 36 in May, was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2012.
Witten was a two-time first-team All-Pro selection (2007, 2010), and joined the Cowboys as a third-round pick out of Tennessee in the 2003 NFL Draft.
If the arrangement is finalized, as expected, he will become the third former Cowboys player to work as a lead network broadcast analyst, joining Troy Aikman (Fox) and Tony Romo (CBS).
"Gallup I think can play immediately, especially with the way we're approaching our receiving corps, which is going to involve a lot of receivers". He went on to catch 927 passes for 11,508 yards and 114 touchdowns, an National Football League scoring record for a tight end. With Witten's future in doubt, the Cowboys would be wise to address their pass-catching need in the draft.
And less than two weeks ago, he said he hoped to play until he was 40. He and Tony Gonzalez are the only tight ends with at least 1,000 catches and 10,000 yards. The foundation was inspired by his family's experience growing up with domestic violence.