The 11-time Pro Bowler holds the Dallas record for consecutive games played and starts.
"His humility and dependability is unmatched", owner Jerry Jones said. His 15 seasons are tied for the most in Dallas with defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones, safety Bill Bates and late offensive lineman Mark Tuinei.
Said head coach Jason Garrett afterward, "What we liked about him is we feel he is more of a complete tight end". Witten eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in four different seasons. Pictured: Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the field during warmups before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Oct. 1, 2017.
"I was never the most talented".
Witten, who turns 36 on Sunday, could not be reached for comment.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Witten has set an example for all past, current and future Dallas players. He spent two seasons walking under it.
"For 15 years, I tried to represent [Cowboys fans] the right way", he said. However, the sad reality is the farthest they could go was the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
And playing behind the durable Witten, he'd managed a paltry nine catches in 28 games over three seasons of work.
"There's an old saying in pro football: The circus doesn't stay in town forever", Witten said. He trails Dez Bryant, released last month with 73 TDs, and Hall of Famer Bob Hayes (71).
He retires as the Cowboys all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. The future Hall of Famer finished his career ranked fourth in National Football League history in receptions and holds records for most catches in a single season by a tight end (110 in 2012) and most catches in a game by a tight end (18 in 2012).
That left just Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers on the depth chart at tight end, Swaim being the only one with any true experience. As the Cowboys scrambled to shift gears mid-draft, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to jump ahead of Dallas to pick up the best remaining tight end prospect in the draft, the aptly named Dallas Goedert. "When you're in those moments, those other things didn't really exist, so I think that had a lot to do with it".
"After much self-reflection, prayer and faith, I have decided the time has come for me to pass the torch and retire", Witten said.