Source: Cowboys reward Jason Witten

Updated: September 12, 2011, 12:49 AM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Dallas Cowboys on Sunday made sure tight end Jason Witten would be a Cowboy for life with a five-year contract extension. A source familiar with the deal told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the deal is worth $37 million and includes $19 million guaranteed.

Witten's deal comes two days after the club signed Jay Ratliff to a five-year extension worth $40 million. The Cowboys and Witten concluded the deal at the team's Newark hotel late Saturday night.

Like Ratliff, Witten had two years left on his contract and was not scheduled to hit the open market until 2013. He signed a seven-year, $29.5 million deal in 2006 that included $12 million guaranteed, which was the most at the time for a tight end.

Witten posted news that he had agreed to an extension on his Twitter page Sunday.

"I am blessed to say that I will retire a cowboy!Thx to the jones family, and all the cowboy staff! True honor to put on the star!! #gameday," he wrote.

Witten, 29, is coming off a 94-catch, 1,002-yard season in 2010 in which he also had a career-high nine touchdowns while playing in only parts of seven games with Tony Romo, whose season ended last year because of a broken collarbone.

Witten is on pace to challenge or has surpassed all or most of the team and NFL records for receptions and yards by a tight end.

His 617 receptions are second-most in franchise history to Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's 750 and fourth-most in NFL history among tight ends. He needs 46 this season to surpass Ozzie Newsome for third place. His 6,967 yards are seventh-most in league history for a tight end and fifth-best in franchise history. He could climb to No. 3 on the team chart behind only Irvin (11,904) and Tony Hill (7,988) this season.

He has three 90-catch seasons, second to only Tony Gonzalez (four) in NFL history for tight ends. He has had at least 80 catches in four straight season, equaling Todd Christensen's mark for a tight end.

A third-round pick in 2003, Witten has missed only one game in his career -- he had a broken jaw as a rookie -- and his seven Pro Bowl appearances are topped in team history only by Bob Lilly (11), Larry Allen (10), Mel Renfro (10), Randy White (nine) and Emmitt Smith (eight).

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter contributed to this report.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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