Football's Future: 10 Impending NFL Retirements And 10 Signings

In recent years, the NFL's "All-Retirement" teams have been rather stacked. Last year, for example, we saw several players with Hall of Fame caliber careers retire, including Tony Romo, Vince Wilfork, and Percy Harvin to name just a few.  Romo called it a career after 14 years, ending his career with four Pro Bowl appearances to go along with several notable honors, including the 2014 NFL passer rating leader award, and 2009 NFC passing yards leader award. Vince Wilfork had an extremely dominant career with the New England Patriots, playing ten seasons for the franchise before then playing his final two seasons with the Houston Texans in 2015 and 2016. Wilfork retired as a two-time Super Bowl Champion and was a five-time Pro Bowler. Percy Harvin, of course, served as a return specialist and wide receiver primarily for the Minnesota Vikings, before then going on to win the 2014 Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks.

While the 2017 retirement squad was an impressive one with a lengthy list of accolades, the 2018 retirement team may arguably be even more stacked. At the end of this NFL season, we're going to bid farewell to several legendary players who we likely will see in the Hall of Fame one day.

Here we're going to be counting down 10 impending NFL retirements, as well as 10 signings that will potentially fill the holes left by these retirees. Some leave big holes in their respective franchise given their longtime dominance, while others may have pushed the limits of their career by a few seasons.

20 Retirement: Darren Sproles

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Drafted as the 130th overall pick of the 2005 draft, Darren Sproles played the majority of his career with the San Diego Chargers after being drafted by the team, before then spending three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. While Sproles had a successful career with the Chargers, it wasn't until the 2017 season, his fifth with the Philadelphia Eagles, that he won a Super Bowl. Sproles finished his career as a three-time Pro Bowler and retires with two NFL records to his name, including most all-purpose yards in a single season with 2,696 in 2011.  After announcing he would be retiring after this season, he played in the Eagles season-opener before being injured during practice prior to Week 2.

19 Signing: Larry Fitzgerald - Arizona Cardinals

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Drafted as the third overall pick of the 2004 draft, Larry Fitzgerald has spent his entire fifteen season career with the Arizona Cardinals. An eleven-time Pro Bowler, Fitzgerald has led the NFL in receptions twice, in 2005, as well as 2016. In addition, Fitzgerald led the NFL in receiving touchdowns two years as well. This upcoming season will mark Fitzgerald's first in free agency since his one-year contract extension last season. At the age of 35, Fitzgerald has made it very clear that he has no intention of playing anywhere other than Arizona despite how frequently he travels back home to Minnesota. Given his upcoming free agency stint, you can expect Fitzgerald to once again re-sign with the Cardinals, even if it's on a short contract.

18 Retirement: Adam Vinatieri

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After going undrafted in 1996, famed kicker Adam Vinatieri spent the 1995-96 season with the Amsterdam Admirals before then signing to the New England Patriots. From 1996-2005 Vinatieri served as the primary placekicker for the Patriots, helping lead the team to three Super Bowls from 2001-2004. Vinatieri earned the reputation as one of the most accurate kickers in the league, which earned him a spot on the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. Since then, Vinatieri has remained with the team, winning a 2006 Super Bowl with the team. At 45-year-old, Vinatieri, who still plays with the Colts, could be retiring at this end of any upcoming season, depending on how long he chooses to stick around.

17 Signing: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - Kansas City Chiefs

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Now in the midst of his fifth pro season, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recently found himself traded to the Washington Redskins from the Green Bay Packers after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Wisconsin franchise. Clinton-Dix had a successful college career at Alabama, where he was voted as a consensus All-American in 2013, in addition to being a 2013 First-team All-SEC member. With a free agency decision looming, there are several options for Clinton-Dix, one of which could manifest in the form of a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are having a great 2018. With $44-million in available cap space, the Chiefs will also see safety Jordan Sterns enter free agency at the end of this season. Depending on how Clinton-Dix performs, he could very well fill that space in the Chiefs roster.

16 Retirement: Brandon Marshall

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After playing at the University of Central Florida, Brandon Marshall was drafted as the 119th pick in the 2006 draft. After spending his first three seasons with the Broncos, Marshall bounced around teams for the next several years before settling with the New Orleans Saints this season. Unfortunately, after being sidelined for several weeks mid-season, all signs point to Marshall retiring after this season. He will retire as the 2012 Pro Bowl MVP, and as someone who has been nominated for the Pro Bowl six different seasons. In addition to his records with various franchises, Marshall holds the NFL record for most seasons with 100+ receptions, in addition to most receptions in an NFL game with 21. Down the line, Marshall could very likely find himself voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

15 Signing: Trey Flowers - New England Patriots

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25-year old Trey Flowers has had a phenomenal season with the New England Patriots, marking the fourth season he has had with the franchise. After a successful career at Arkansas, Flowers was drafted as the 101st pick in the 2015 draft as a Second Team All-SEC in 2013. After a rough rookie season that saw him sidelined due to injuries, Flowers had a breakout season in 2016, playing in the Super Bowl and helping the team secure a legendary comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. With Flowers free agency decision coming up, you can expect the storied franchise to re-sign their dominant defensive end.

14 Retirement: Thomas Davis

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Carolina Panthers legend Thomas Davis was drafted as the 14th overall pick of the 2005 draft. Since then Davis has spent his entire career with the franchise earning himself Pro Bowl honors three times throughout his career, in addition to winning the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. Prior to the start of this season, Davis declared that this would most definitely be his final season, however, despite that, he seems to be slightly noncommital on retirement, saying that he could potentially decide to play longer. With that being said, Davis' impending retirement is looming on the horizon whether it comes at the end of this season, or next season.

13 Signing: Ndamukong Suh - Los Angeles Rams

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Last season, Ndamukong Suh had quite the free agency decision ahead of him. While the Tennessee native had reportedly made a strong impression on the franchise, Suh opted to sign with the Los Angeles Rams. This season, the team has had an incredibly impressive record. Given that, the team has continued to express since prior to the start of this season that they would like to extend Suh's contract at the end of this season if possible. Given that Suh chose to sign with the Rams over teams offering him more money, it wouldn't be that surprising for Suh to take another pay cut to play with a winning franchise like the Rams.

12 Retirement: Cameron Wake

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After going undrafted out of Penn State, Cameron Wake joined the New York Giants in 2015 before playing a season in the Canadian Football League. After his season abroad, Wake signed with the Miami Dolphins and has since spent the past nine seasons with the team. Throughout his time in the NFL, he has been nominated to five Pro Bowls and was named a 2012 First-team All-Pro. While he has had an impressive season so far, at 36-years-old, it's no secret that Wake will be looking to hang up his cleats sooner rather than later. It is also important to note that this is the final season on Wake's contract.

11 Signing: Jay Ajayi - Kansas City Chiefs

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At just 25-year-old, Boise State alum Jay Ajayi has spent two seasons with two different teams. After playing the first two seasons of his career with the Miami Dolphins, Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. While Ajayi put up impressive numbers last season with the Eagles, an injury derailed his 2018-19 NFL season after a torn ACL early in the season. Ajayi will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, and given that he's in a contract year, Ajayi likely won't find himself offered a contract from the Eagles. With the recent departure of Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs need a backup, and a gamble on Ajayi coming off an injury could pay off big time for the young team.

10 Retirement: Marshawn Lynch

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Drafted as the 12th overall pick of the 2007 draft, Marshawn Lynch is one of the most beloved NFL players by fans. Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowler led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2013 and 2014 to go along with his countless franchise records. After sitting out the 2016 NFL season, Lynch wound up on the Oakland Raiders for the past two seasons. While last season was a successful one for the veteran, this season saw him placed on injured reserve early in the season thanks to a groin injury. Given that he is 32-year- old, Lynch could very well find himself retiring at the end of this season, if not the end of next season at the latest.

9 Signing: Demarcus Lawrence - Dallas Cowboys

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The Dallas Cowboys are currently in the midst of a rather successful season that has seen the franchise post one of the best records in recent memory. A large part of the team's success has been credited to the defense, largely in part due to Demarcus Lawrence's contributions on that end of the field. With countless sacks this season, Lawrence has made it clear that he believes the Dallas Cowboys will likely want to offer him a contract extension or re-sign him once he enters free agency at the end of this season. The 26-year old Lawrence contributed a career-high 14.5 sacks last season, setting him up for another dominant season this season before entering free agency.

8 Retirement: Julius Peppers

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Julius Peppers undoubtedly will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer one day after he decides to inevitably hang 'em up. At 38-year-old, Peppers has spent the majority of his career with the Carolina Panthers, joining the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers in the middle of his career before returning to the Panthers last season. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Peppers was voted the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002 before then going on to be voted to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Peppers is ranked fourth for most sacks in NFL history, to go along with the second most forced fumbles in NFL history with 52. Given his age, Peppers will likely be retiring sooner rather than later.

7 Signing: Teddy Bridgewater - Miami Dolphins

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When Teddy Bridgewater joined the New Orleans Saints last season, it was explained that he was being groomed as Drew Brees backup, with the intention being for the young star to eventually take over the starting role when Brees retires. While that would be an ideal situation, Bridgewater's contract will be ending this season, and the team won't have much cap space to re-sign him. With the Miami Dolphins currently being a middle of the pack team, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the team attempt to sign Bridgewater, arguably the most interesting quarterback prospect of this free agency. With over $20 million to spend next season, could we see the Dolphins sign Bridgewater?

6 Retirement: Eli Manning

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Drafted as the number one overall pick in 2004, Ole Miss alum Eli Manning has spent his entire career with the New York Giants. The two-time Super Bowl champion joined the team in 2004 and has remained a staple of the New York franchise as he has quarterbacked the team to two Super Bowl wins that both saw him named Super Bowl MVP. At 37-years-old, Manning and the Giants are hoping for a postseason run. With that being said, there has been much speculation about when Manning will retire. While reports have begun to emerge that indicate he could very well remain on the team next year, time is winding down for the youngest Manning brother.

5 Signing: Golden Tate - Arizona Cardinals

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When Golden Tate joined the Philadelphia Eagles from the Dallas Cowboys, many thought the deal was one that would benefit the Eagles more than the Cowboys. Given that Amari Cooper, who was traded for Tate, is having a much better season that Notre Dame alum Tate, the Eagles aren't too likely to offer him a contract extension. Given that longtime Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is currently on the verge of retirement, it wouldn't be too surprising to see the team attempt to bolster their receiving corps with Tate regardless of whether or not this proves to be Fitzgerald's last in the league, which seems unlikely.

4 Retirement: Rob Gronkowski

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Rob Gronkowski is undoubtedly one of the best tight ends in the league when he's healthy. The 6-foot-6 Gronk is just 29-years-old but has already experienced a litany of injuries, including a broken arm in 2012 that led to an infection and two additional surgeries. The same season, he tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the team's games in 2013. After several healthy seasons, Gronkowski was sidelined with injuries once again in 2016. Given that he has expressed his desire to become an actor, and that he has already mentioned retirement in the past, it doesn't sound like Gronkowski plans on being around much longer.

3 Signing: Dee Ford - Kansas City Chiefs

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Dee Ford staying in Kansas City certainly isn't a given. As a matter of fact, listing the Kansas City Chiefs as his destination this upcoming offseason was a very close call. Almost too close to call, in fact. Ford is currently in the midst of his contract year and is performing exceptionally this season. The 27-year-old from Auburn could just as easily find himself joining another team. The Chiefs likely will want to spend some of their $42 million next offseason to keep Ford on the team given his performance this season. With that being said, however, the Seattle Seahawks could use an edge rusher like Ford to bolster their already impressive defense, and could very well spend some of their $61 million this upcoming offseason on him.

2 Retirement: Tom Brady

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No surprises here, not even a legend like Brady, undoubtedly one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, can outrun father time. At 41-years old, it's no surprise that Brady tops our list of impending retirements. Currently in the midst of a better-than-average season, but underwhelming in comparison to previous seasons, many are saying Brady played his final Super Bowl last season. While we aren't ready to shut the door on Brady that quick, he himself previously stated that he wanted to play to 45. Brady will be 42 by the time next season starts, assuming he plays, and will undoubtedly be calling it quits sooner rather than later.

1 Signing: Le'Veon Bell - Oakland Raiders

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It's no secret that where Le'Veon Bell will play in 2019 is one of the biggest questions going into this upcoming offseason. The 26-year-old has been dubbed the NFL's Kawhi Leonard after his sudden disappearance from the team. After the Steelers placed their franchise tag on Bell he refused to sign the contract and no-showed training camp. After being declared ineligible and sitting out this season Bell will be fresh going into next season and will surely be one of the biggest free agents. With Marshawn Lynch sustaining a major groin injury this season, and backup Doug Martin on a one-year contract, the Raiders could break the bank and offer Bell a huge deal, filling a major hole in their offense.

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