Witten returns to NFL Cowboys after year as TV analyst


New York (AFP)

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will return to the NFL club for a 16th season after retiring and spending last season as a television commentator, the team announced.

Witten, who retired last May and spent the 2018 campaign working for ESPN on Monday Night Football, said he came back to try and help the Cowboys compete for a Super Bowl crown in 2019.

"The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong," Witten said. "This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision and I'm very comfortable with it. I'm looking forward to getting back in the dirt."

Witten, who turns 37 in May, is an 11-time Pro Bowl selection who has made 1,152 career receptions -- fourth on the all-time catches list -- for 12,448 yards and 68 touchdowns.

Among NFL tight ends, Witten ranks second to recent American Football Hall of Fame inductee Tony Gonzalez in catches (1,325) and receiving yards(15,127).

Witten's contract is worth $3.5 million with another $1.5 million in performance incentives, according to the NFL Network.

"I think (Witten) felt like there was still some meat on the bone, some things he wanted to accomplish," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "There's no doubt in my mind he can still play."

The Cowboys' most productive tight end last season was Blake Jarwin, who had 27 catches for 307 yards and three touchdowns.

Dallas went 10-6 last season and beat Seattle in the first round of the NFL playoffs before losing to the Los Angeles Rams. That matched their deepest playoff run since they beat Pittsburgh in the 1996 Super Bowl.