This past offseason, we practically saw a Pro Bowl retirement team formed. The amount of talent that retired this past offseason could have won a Super Bowl. Some of these players included Carson Palmer, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and Darrelle Revis. And of course, there’s way more players who were part of this group. So many, that ESPN actually put together an All-Retirement team. So, how does this effect the future?
If you look at what’s happening, there is a change in the NFL. We are beginning to see a lot of the younger guys taking over, as the older generation sees the end. There are many players who are coming towards the end of their career, many which are playing the final few seasons of their career.
Next season may not be another All-Retirement team, but we should expect to see a few big names walk away from the game. With how much harder the game has become to play, a lot of guys are retiring at younger ages. Many of these guys can’t take all these big hits long past 30. The NFL is doing their best to keep these guys safe, but it’s a contact sport.
We took a look at all the players in the league and pulled out 20 players who are likely playing their final season in 2018. Some guys may be a surprise not to see on this list, while other guys may be a shock to actually see on the list. Prepare yourselves, as some of your favorite players may be gone following this season.
20 Andrew Whitworth - Los Angeles Rams (OT)
Till what age will Andrew Whitworth want to continue playing? Whitworth will turn 37-years-old in December, making him one of the oldest offensive linemen in the NFL. Considering how talented the Rams are this season, they have a very good shot at making and even winning the Super Bowl.
If the Rams do win the Super Bowl, that should do it for Whitworth.
Even if they don’t, it would be hard to see him want to go through another training camp and everything once again. We saw Joe Thomas walk away from the game last season, and this year’s offensive lineman to eetire may be Whitworth.
19 Sebastian Janikowski - Seattle Seahawks (K)
It was pretty surprising that when the Raiders moved on from Sebastian Janikowski, he wanted to continue his career. At 40 years old though, you would have to expect he’s eyeing retirement. Unless Janikowski plans on pulling an Adam Vinatieri and playing into his late 40s, this could be the season.
The Seahawks have exceeded expectations so far this season, but it’s hard to believe they could compete for a playoff spot. How much more football would Janikowski want to play if his team isn’t winning? It very well could be about the money, considering the Raiders were pretty bad for the majority of his career. We may have more clarity as the season continues.
18 Derrick Johnson - Oakland Raiders (LB)
Thirteen years in the NFL and Derrick Johnson wanted to continue his career, as he signed with the Oakland Raiders. You can say it’s been tough for Johnson throughout his career, considering he hasn’t played with that good of a defense. Johnson is making an impact but plays for a team that looks highly disappointing.
Johnson will turn 36 years old in November. With the game being as tough as it is, it will be hard to see him playing after this season. Some expected him to retire following his time ending with the Chiefs. This may be the year he finally decides to call it quits.
17 Michael Bennett - Philadelphia Eagles (DE)
Michael Bennett’s departure from the Seattle Seahawks was quite the surprise, and now, may not be as happy with his new team as fans would expect. Cris Collinsworth recently brought up how Bennett has been unhappy with his new team, which may make Bennett choose to go another route next season.
Bennett is going to be 33 years old in November, making him less valuable next year.
If things don’t improve in Philly, he may choose to end his career. He’s seen Kam Chancellor move on with his life. Maybe it’s time that Bennett follows his former teammate, even though he’s not dealing with an injury.
16 Orlando Scandrick - Kansas City Chiefs (CB)
Following this season, Orlando Scandrick may have no choice but to retire. It hasn’t really been publicized in the past, but Scandrick hasn’t looked very good this season. Throughout the preseason and now the season, Scandrick has blown coverages, and constantly seems behind the ball.
No teams are really going to be interested in Scandrick next offseason, which may play a big part why he doesn’t play following this season. As he gets older, he will only continue to get worse. Unless a team is desperate for a cornerback and is willing to give Scandrick a job, he will retire.
15 Josh McCown - New York Jets (QB)
There had to be some questions following last season if Josh McCown would continue his career or not. McCown is approaching 40 but looked really good last season. It didn’t make a difference to the Jets, as they started the season with Sam Darnold. Right now, McCown is playing the role of a mentor for Darnold and nothing more. After this season, Darnold should be fine to move forward on his own.
McCown was due for a pretty nice payday following last season, as he signed a one-year deal worth $10 million. That will be the last paycheck of his career.
14 Adam Vinatieri - Indianapolis Colts (K)
Eventually, the oldest player in the NFL will retire, and that man would be Adam Vinatieri. Turning 46 years old in December, the time is ticking. It’s hard to fathom how a guy in his mid-40s is still playing football. It shows the love Vinatieri has for the game.
To show how long Vinatieri has been in the NFL, he’s been playing since 1996, as he’s in his 23rd season.
The Colts don’t look like a playoff team, which may discourage Vinatieri from continuing his career. Something has been keeping him in the game, but at some point, he has to realize his time is coming to an end.
13 Thomas Davis - Carolina Panthers (LB)
The Panthers need to get used to how things were the first four games, as they were without Thomas Davis. The Pro Bowl linebacker has been great his whole career. Davis has already announced that 2018 would be his final season in the NFL, as he ends his glittering career.
It will be a tough loss for the middle of the Panthers defense, who have had Davis on the team for the past 12 seasons. Him alongside Luke Kuechly have been one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL. It will be difficult for the Panthers to replace him in 2019.
12 Sam Bradford - Arizona Cardinals (QB)
The leash on Sam Bradford was pretty short, as the Cardinals are moving forward with Josh Rosen as their starter. Following an offseason where he signed a one-year deal worth $20 million, Bradford began to struggle as the new quarterback of the Cardinals. Bradford has been really accurate throughout his career, but this season, he’s looked like a rookie.
Considering his health concerns and now his play, no other teams will be interested in re-signing him next spring. Bradford himself will see how things are playing out in his career, and he may choose to leave on his own terms before being rejected.
11 Antonio Gates - Los Angeles Chargers (TE)
The general consensus was that Antonio Gates would retire following the 2017 season. With Hunter Henry filling the shoes of the starting tight end position, Gates wouldn’t have an impact on the team. Henry went down with a season-ending injury during the preseason, which eventually led the Chargers to call Gates back up.
Seeing how difficult it was for Gates to find a home this offseason will give him the hint to retire after this season.
Plus, he gets to end it with the team he’s spent his whole career with. Gates is spending his last season the perfect way, as the starting tight end on a talented team.
10 Frank Gore - Miami Dolphins (RB)
Frank Gore may be upset when he ends up rushing for less than 800 yards for the first time since his rookie season. Gore is often overlooked when talking about some of the best running backs in the game's history, even though Gore has had nine 1,000-yard seasons throughout his career.
With the Dolphins, Gore doesn’t see the ball as much as he did in Indianapolis. He currently splits carries with Kenyan Drake, but may be seeing less than Drake. As much as Gore would love to pass Emmitt Smith’s record, it’s too farfetched to achieve. Gore will move forward in 2019.
9 Julius Peppers - Carolina Panthers (DE)
The end seemed here this offseason, as it was expected that Julius Peppers would retire. Peppers decided not to, as he signed a one-year deal to return back to the Panthers. Peppers will turn 39 years old in January. Since 2007, Peppers has finished with at least seven sacks each season. That’s what makes it difficult for Peppers to retire.
Despite him being older, he’s still one of the best defensive ends in the league. But if he was more confident that his career would continue, he may have signed a multi-year deal to confirm that he would play past this season.
8 Delanie Walker - Tennessee Titans (TE)
There are two types of people in the NFL. Players who go through injuries sometimes like being away from the game and spending more time with their family and others use it as motivation to come back for one last season to play.
Who knows how Walker will react to his season-ending injury, but seeing Jason Witten retire last season, it may be time for Walker.
The Titans are looking pretty good so far, but Walker will have a long time to think about whether he wants to return from such a serious injury. It all depends on how Walker spends his time, but there’s a good chance he chooses to retire.
7 Adrian Peterson - Washington Redskins (RB)
Adrian Peterson told the world that he could come back and perform at a high level. He was right. With Derrius Guice out with a season-ending injury, Peterson has come in and really helped this offense. It seems like Peterson has never aged, as he’s playing like his old self.
It seems like Peterson just wanted to prove once again that he can play at a high level. But you have to remember, Guice comes back next season. No team is really going to pay Peterson much or give him a starting job that is a contender. Peterson is in the perfect spot to end his career.
6 Cameron Wake - Miami Dolphins (DE)
It’s a shame that Cameron Wake began his NFL career at an older age. Wake has really been one of the best defensive ends in the league, finishing with over 10 sacks five times throughout his career.
Right now, the Dolphins probably look the best they have ever looked in his time in Miami. And that may be the way he wants to remember the Dolphins.
Wake would be 37 years old if he plays in 2019. It will be difficult for him to go through another training camp, regardless of what happens with the team this season.
5 Marshawn Lynch - Oakland Raiders (RB)
We have seen a much improved Marshawn Lynch in 2018. Lynch stated when he first signed with the Raiders that he wanted to play with his favorite team before they left for Las Vegas. His contract expires following this season, which will play a part in his departure.
No one knows for sure when the Raiders will move to Vegas, but it makes sense that Lynch hangs up his cleats after this season. The Raiders have been pretty bad considering all the moves they have made, and the future doesn’t look promising for a veteran running back who already retired in the past, to want to continue playing.
4 Sean Lee - Dallas Cowboys (LB)
Unlike most of the players on this list, Sean Lee doesn’t seem like a player who would be considering retirement. But due to all the injuries that he’s dealt with throughout his career, it has to be time.
The Cowboys have Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith to be the guys to lead the Cowboys forward from here.
And cutting Lee actually saves the Cowboys a good amount of money. Lee would find a team after, but he’s going to receive a lesser pay, and continue to risk his body. It’s time to realize he can’t stay healthy and enjoy life after football than possibly hurt himself even more.
3 Terrell Suggs - Baltimore Ravens (LB)
The end of an era. It’s time for Terrell Suggs to move on to the life after football. Suggs is 36-years-old now, still playing at a high level. But, there comes a time where you know it’s over. Physically, Suggs could probably play a few more years. But, how much more does he have to give to the game?
Ray Lewis has been out of the game for some time now, and it’s become Suggs' defense. But with the possible changes coming and Lamar Jackson potentially taking over at quarterback in 2019, this team has a long way to go. Suggs decides to skip the rebuilding process and retire after this season.
2 Eli Manning - New York Giants (QB)
It’s what half of New York wanted, and what half of New York would hate to see. The days of Eli Manning in the NFL are coming to an end. Looking at the way things are rolling for the Giants right now, Manning is constantly running around, fearing for his life.
Manning has never really had great protection throughout his career, but it looks worse than ever right now. With so much talent on the Giants roster, you would expect them to be making some noise. Instead, they’re struggling due to the lack of protection for Manning. Eli will decide it’s time to move on before he gets hurt.
1 Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers (QB)
Pittsburgh is becoming the new Jersey Shore for the Steelers. With Le’Veon Bell out, and all the drama going on there, it seems like a reality show. Ben Roethlisberger is 36-years-old, and you would have to assume that he doesn’t want to be part of all this drama at his age.
There are times in the past where the Steelers have looked like the best offense in the league.
With all the drama right now, this team looks dysfunctional moving forward.
Before things get even worse, Big Ben will say his goodbyes to the game of football, without winning another championship.