The 2017 NFL season is kicking off splendidly but there are some faces no longer in a jersey. Fans around the world heard the news about talented players, Anquan Boldin and Vince Wilfork, retiring in August. They both gave it their all and definitely made a splash in the league. We decided to let you guys know, if you didn’t already, about some other football players who also won’t be playing this season.
Before some of you savages say to yourself you already knew he was retired, just remember, not everyone follows the game or knows what’s going on as well as you do. Some of these players will be in the Hall of Fame while others may vanish from the spotlight. Although not every player on this list is an all-time great, they did contribute to the sport and deserve our respect for putting their bodies on the line.
The NFL is one tough cookie and players retire all the time. It wouldn’t be surprising if you hear about a few more retirements by the time you read this article. Just one play on the practice field can change a player’s life. Just one misstep with the law could also change a player. No one said the game was easy, and the guys on this list can vouch for that fact.
16 Andre Johnson
One of the greatest wide receivers of his generation, Johnson announced his retirement in October of 2016 but officially retired as a member of the Houston Texans in April. He would be selected by the Texans with the third pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. The Texans were still just a novice franchise and were looking for the once in a generation player. They found that player in Johnson but couldn’t pair him up with an awesome quarterback.
Just imagine if Johnson had Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees throwing him the ball. Even with lackluster quarterback play, Johnson still managed to appear in seven Pro Bowls, earn three First-team All-Pro honors and led the league in receiving yards in 2008 and 2009. During his last season was with the Tennessee Titans he would only play in eight games.
15 James Laurinaitis
Wrestling fans may know him as the son of Road Warrior Animal but football fans know him as one of the best defensive players the Los Angeles Rams of this century. The Ohio State graduate would be selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Rams. He would play six seasons with the franchise before becoming a New Orleans Saint in 2016. Unfortunately, he would be placed on injured reserve due to a quad injury.
He would announce his retirement in April after eight years in the NFL. Laurinaitis would finish with 869 tackles, 16.5 sacks, and 10 interceptions. Although he has more awards as a collegiate player than as a professional, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a workhorse and gave it all on the field.
14 Josh Scobee
We had to include at least one kicker for this list, after all, it is a position that can make or break your favorite team’s season. Scobee would be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He would connect on 24-of-31 field goals his rookie year. He would spend most of his career with the Jaguars before moving onto the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 and New Orleans Saints in 2016.
He wouldn’t play last season because the Saints would release him in May and he would finally retire after signing a one-day contract with the Jaguars in April. Scobee would end his career with 241 made field goals and tied the NFL record for most 50+ yard field goals in a single game with three.
13 Jake Long
A former number one overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Long was pretty good but unfortunately, would be stuck on some terrible teams during his prime. After having a stellar collegiate career at the University of Michigan, the Miami Dolphins would take a chance on his skills. He would spend four seasons with the team before becoming a Los Angeles Ram. He would also be a member of the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings before retiring in April.
Long would appear in four Pro Bowl games, was a First-team All-Pro in 2010, and started 99 games in his career. At 6 feet 7 inches, Long most have likely would have tried a crack at one more year in the league but injuries seriously sidelined the giant last season.
12 Rob Ninkovich
One of the most popular New England Patriots of today, Ninkovich finally retired after 11 seasons in the league in July. The linebacker and defensive end would be selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. The beginning of his career would be a terrible one as he played in just eight games during three seasons.
He would then sign with the New England Patriots in 2009 and like many other Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick would turn him into a productive player. Ninkovich would help the team win two Super Bowls and numerous playoff games during his time with the team. In his last game with the uniform, he would record two assisted tackles at Super Bowl LI and be involved in the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.
11 Justin Forsett
Selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Forsett would carve out a role as a third down running back for most of his tenure in the league. He would explode in 2014 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens when he rushed for 1,266 yards with nine rushing touchdowns but would never reproduce those numbers again. As a journeyman, Forsett has played for seven teams in nine years in the NFL.
In May, Forsett would announce his retirement and finished with 3,890 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns, and 1,351 receiving yards. His best year in 2014 would earn him a Pro Bowl spot which isn’t bad for someone drafted in the seventh round. Since retirement, Forsett has gone into the entrepreneurial business and is selling a “shower pill” product.
10 Chad Greenway
Selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Greenway would become the locker room leader and a defensive pillar for the franchise. Maybe one of the most underrated linebackers of his generation, Greenway finished with 1,101 tackles before officially retiring in March. It’s a big blow to a franchise that emphasizes on the defensive side of the ball.
He would make the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2013 and was the NFC combined tackles leader in 2010 with 144. Not only has Greenway been a great athlete on the field, he’s also heavily involved in his charity, Lead The Way Foundation. Founded in 2008, Greenway has helped over 375,000 people living around the Twin Cities. Don’t be surprised if you see him as a Viking coach in the near future.
9 Jordan Cameron
Considered an athletic freak like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, this tight end would be selected the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He wouldn’t be a force until his third year in the league when he produced seven touchdowns and 917 receiving yards. Cameron wouldn’t come close to those numbers in his career. Even when he signed a big contract with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, he was a shadow of his former self.
To be fair, Cameron would succumb to four concussions (that we know of) in six seasons. His health was more important to him than his career and the big guy would retire in March of this year. He would end his career with 173 receptions and 2,046 receiving yards.
8 Anquan Boldin
Anquan Boldin finally called it quits after 14 seasons in the league. After playing with the Cardinals, Ravens, 49ers and the Lions, Boldin signed with the Buffalo Bills late this offseason, but with racial tensions and inequalities occurring in the US, Boldin opted to leave football and work on helping with his country and community.
Boldin has always been an activist and helped with humanitarian causes. While Buffalo surely needed his help, especially because they traded Sammy Watkins away, we're certain they respect his decision to step away from the game for a cause that means so much to him.
7 Zachary Orr
This is probably the saddest story on this list. Orr would sign with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He would work his tail off and make the 53-man roster, an impressive feat in its own, and finished second on the team with seven special team tackles. In 2015, he would get more work on the field as a defensive player instead of a special team’s talent. His third year in the league he would explode onto the scene as one of the best linebackers in the game.
After starting in 15 games at weak-side linebacker, Orr would produce 133 combined tackles and three interceptions and would earn Second-team All-Pro honors. Here comes the sad part, Orr would have to announce his retirement due to a congenital neck/spine condition in January. After receiving some encouraging news, he tried to contact several teams but no one would sign him. He officially retired in August.
6 Geoff Schwartz
After attending the University of Oregon, Schwartz would be selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of 2008 NFL Draft. His collegiate career would be more successful than his professional career but that doesn’t mean he was a viable player for a franchise.
After playing with the Panthers, he would bounce around different teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions.
As a member of the Giants, his body would start to break down after he sustained several injuries. His last ditch effort was to play for the Lions in 2016 but would be released by the team. Schwartz would announce his retirement in February. He can now relax and watch his brother, Mitchell, play for the Chiefs.
5 Ryan Clady
At 6 feet 6 inches tall, Clady was built to play in the NFL. He would be selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He would play most of his career in the Mile High City but was traded to the New York Jets last season. As an offensive tackle, Clady did a great job protecting the quarterback and is considered one of the best from his generation.
Four Pro Bowl appearances, two First-team All-Pro honors, and a Super Bowl champion, you can say Clady lived up to his hype. Injuries would take a toll on the big guy down the road. In 2015 he tore his ACL during OTA’s and in 2016 he would be placed on injured reserve after sustaining a shoulder injury. He would retire in April, tweeting, "I'm excited about what life holds for me going forward."
4 A.J. Hawk
We already mentioned one Ohio State linebacker on this list so why not include another one. Hawk would be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. As the fifth overall pick, Hawk had big shoes to fill and he didn’t disappoint. He would help the franchise win a Super Bowl and represented the team as a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010 and 2011.
After leading the Packers in tackles in five of his nine seasons, he would sign with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015. He would become a shell of his former self and be released a year later. Hawk gave it one more shot with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 but wouldn’t stay on the team for less than a month. He decided to retire in January and would retire with the Packers in April.
3 Josh Cribbs
One of the deadliest kick returners in the NFL, Cribbs is a fine example of how important it is to have great special teams players. Going undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft, Cribbs has given players hope that even if you aren’t selected by a team, you can still carve out a career for yourself. His speed and elusiveness on the kickoff return would earn him three Pro Bowls in 2007, 2009, and 2012. He would also earn two First-team All-Pro Honors in 2007 and 2009.
He was such a deadly weapon that the NFL selected him to their 2000s All-Decade Team. Cribbs had been out of the league for a few years but officially retired in March. Tied with Leon Washington for most career kickoff return touchdowns (8), Cribbs quietly but spectacularly turned chicken waste into a chicken sandwich.
2 Brandon Flowers
Selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Flowers became one of the better cornerbacks in the league. The Virginia Tech graduate would contribute for the franchise right away, producing 62 total tackles, two interceptions, and 13 pass deflections. Flowers would be very consistent until he entered the twilight of his career.
In 2014, he would sign a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Chargers but end up staying with the team for the rest of his career. In 2016, Flowers would suffer a devastating concussion, ending his season. At 31 years old, he would announce his retirement in August of this year. Flowers ended his solid career with a Pro Bowl appearance, 487 tackles, and 21 interceptions.
1 DeMarcus Ware
If you didn’t know, one of the greatest defensive players of his generation decided to hang up his jersey in March. Ware would be selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He would anchor the Cowboy’s defense for nine seasons. He would sign with the Denver Broncos after being released by the Cowboys in 2014. It was the right move because Ware would help the franchise win Super Bowl 50.
He would finish with nine Pro Bowls, four First-team All-Pro honors, and was announced as a member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. The athletic sack machine would become the second fastest player to reach 100+ sacks and finishes with 138.5. In April, Ware would sign a one-day contract with the Cowboys, retiring as a member of the team.