The network had brought in an entirely new broadcast team for the 2018 season, which was the 11-time Pro Bowl tight end’s first as a color commentator.
“We thank Jason for his many contributions to Monday Night Football and to ESPN over the past year and wish him continued success,” ESPN said in a statement. “We have seen many former coaches and players go into broadcasting before eventually returning to the game they love, so we understand Jason’s desire to return to the Dallas Cowboys. In the coming weeks we will determine our MNF plans for the 2019 season.”
Along with Witten, ESPN’s new-look 2018 MNF announcing crew also included play-by-play man Joe Territore, analyst Booger McFarland and sideline reporter Lisa Walter. Witten replaced Jon Gruden, who left MNF after nine seasons to return to coaching with the Oakland Raiders.
Likely a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Witten played 15 seasons with the Cowboys, retiring after the 2017 season with 1,152 receptions for 12,448 years — No. 2 all-time among tight ends in both categories — and 68 touchdowns. ESPN reports that he signed a one-deal with the Cowboys worth $3.5 million plus incentives and bonuses.