Ray Lewis close to deal with ESPN

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will retire at the end of this season, is close to signing a multiyear contract with ESPN, according to a published report.

Lewis is expected to have a significant role on "Monday Night Countdown" while being featured on numerous platforms, multiple sources told SI.com. An ESPN spokesperson declined comment when contacted Thursday morning.

According to the report, Lewis and his representatives met during the season with several NFL broadcast networks.

Lewis announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the season, closing one of the greatest careers in NFL history.

He intends to play for the first time since tearing his triceps two months ago when the Ravens host the Colts in Sunday's wild-card game, saying: "There is no reason for me to not play," according to The Baltimore Sun.

Lewis had hinted at retirement previously. He said last summer that he couldn't see himself playing past age 37. Lewis turned 37 in May.

Lewis said he wants to spend more time with his two sons. While working to return from his injury, Lewis watched his sons play on the same high school football team, and he intends to watch Ray Lewis III perform as a freshman next year for his alma mater, the University of Miami. SI reported, according to sources, one of Lewis' main requirements for a broadcasting career was flexibility in his schedule so he could attend his son's games.

Lewis has gone to 12 Pro Bowls, been named first-team All-Pro seven times and been voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice. He led the Ravens in tackles in 14 of his 17 seasons, the exceptions being those years in which he missed significant time with injuries (2002, 2005, 2012).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, only four players in NFL history have been to more Pro Bowls than Lewis (Bruce Matthews, 14; Jerry Rice, 13; Reggie White, 13; Tony Gonzalez, 13). Lewis led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV when he was the key figure on a defense that set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season.

Information from ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley, ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press was used in this report.