Report: Witten expected to retire, join MNF booth

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is expected to retire from football to join the Monday Night Football booth, according to a report Friday by ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Witten will first meet with owner Jerry Jones before making the decision final, per the report.

The analyst role in the MNF booth became available when Jon Gruden left to become the coach of the Oakland Raiders.

"Jason Witten is planning to retire after 15 years to join ESPN's new Monday Night Football broadcast team as a lead analyst but will meet today with owner Jerry Jones before making his decision final, per sources," Mortensen tweeted.

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Jones told reporters Friday that Witten's retirement is not yet a sure thing, adding that he's been in touch with the tight end throughout the offseason.

"He has some things to think about and discuss with his family from a professional perspective," Jones said. "He also told me he is going to need some more time for consideration, at least through the weekend. He has not made any decisions that are definite at this time. We have no announcement at this time.

"I've talked to Jason several times this week. I've met with him, I met with him as late as just a few hours ago, and we've had great discussions. I'll keep the details of those discussions private forever."

Despite Jones' remarks, multiple outlets have reported the decision has indeed already been made.

Related: Other players who have retired over this offseason:

The 35-year-old Witten said after the Cowboys' final game of the season that he absolutely intended to keep playing.

"Oh, I'm back," he told reporters when asked about the possibility of retirement following Dallas' season finale. "I'm coming back. I love playing this game too much and I know that I can play it at a high level."

And less than two weeks ago, he said he hoped to play until he was 40.

"There's been a lot of things said over the years, especially the last few months," Witten said then, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I guess that's what happens when you get old. Maybe one day that will happen, but hopefully I can play until I'm 40 like some of these other guys. I'll take it one day at a time. My plan is to be here with the Cowboys. Absolutely."

Witten caught 63 passes for 560 yards in 2017, both his lowest marks since his rookie season in 2003, but he also nabbed five touchdowns and was named to his 11th Pro Bowl after the season as a replacement for Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. The Cowboys don't currently have a young prospect at the position expected to push for a larger role in 2018, though that could change this offseason.

Witten is entering the first year of a four-year extension signed last March that pays him $6.5 million per season on a year-to-year basis, with no additional salary cap implications if he retires or is released.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen also auditioned for the MNF job, but instead agreed to a two-year extension on Thursday that could be worth up to $20.1 million.

--Field Level Media