The end of an era is approaching. With six NFL quarterbacks projected to be starters this year, we could see a lot of players retire after this upcoming season. So many stars from the past are possibly heading into their final year of the NFL, while some others at an old age will likely continue to play. And a big part of why these players may retire, is due to the young talent that is up and coming.
When there’s young talent coming up, it forces teams to start over and prepare for the next 10-15 years. You can develop a team around the veteran players for so long, until you realize you need to move forward without them. A large portion of the league has very young quarterbacks starting, or getting prepared to start for 2019. It’s the way the league is.
Some teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have adapted by going younger. And usually when you go younger, you can acquire more players because the contracts are cheaper. But when you have to pay a player over 30 at least $10 million a year, it may not be worth it. So, the question is, what NFL players are going to leave the game behind in 2018, and who will stay?
It’s a good thing to thing about because we could be watching the final season for many stars. Nobody would have even thought that the 2017 season would be the last ever season Jason Witten suits up in a Cowboys jersey. Surprises happen, and many of them may happen after this season.
20 Retire: Jay Cutler - Free Agent (QB)
The most likely player to retire, is Jay Cutler. Cutler originally retired before the 2017 season, but decided to come back when the Dolphins offered him a starting job. While he’s heading to television, he may wait until the end of the 2018 season after he realizes no team wants to sign him.
With it being preseason, there’s still plenty of time for a quarterback to get hurt, which could give him another opportunity to play again.
It may be an opportunity for him to come back and shine one last time. If not, he will move on.
19 Retire: Alfred Morris - Free Agent (RB)
Another player in limbo right now, is Alfred Morris. It’s shocking that Morris is a free agent, considering how well he played with the Dallas Cowboys. A big reason why many believe the Cowboys didn’t re-sign him, was because of how expensive he may be. But for some reason, there hasn’t been much interest in him.
As the preseason begins, Morris will find interest. He likely won’t find any better than a one-year deal, which may be the last of his career. After seeing Darren McFadden retire last season, Morris may follow McFadden’s footsteps after the 2018 season comes to an end.
18 Stick Around: Matt Bryant - Atlanta Falcons (K)
Kickers tend to be the oldest players in the NFL, since they don’t have to deal with any contact. Matt Bryant is 43 years old, still kicking for the Atlanta Falcons. Bryant is a lot older than most NFL players, so many would expect him to retire at such an old age in football terms. But after Bryant signed a three-year deal this offseason with the Falcons, he still has some time left in the league. Bryant may aim to be the oldest player in the NFL by the time his contract comes to an end. Lucky for the Falcons, he’s been accurate throughout his career.
17 Retire: Adam Vinatieri - Indianapolis Colts (K)
The oldest player in the NFL currently is Adam Vinatieri, who seems like he will be in the last season of his NFL career. Vinatieri signed a one-year this offseason with the Colts, which should be the last contract of his career.
Heading into his 23rd season in the NFL, Vinateri has had a remarkable career with countless game winning field goals.
Chances are, Vinatieri came back for one more season in hopes that Andrew Luck could come back to take the Colts to the playoffs. Who doesn’t want to win on a high note? And if it doesn’t happen, he moves on with his life.
16 Stick Around: Terrell Suggs - Baltimore Ravens (LB)
Ray Lewis decided to wait until the Ravens won another Super Bowl to retire, so what will it take for another great Ravens linebacker, Terrell Suggs, to retire? The Ravens may not win another Super Bowl anytime soon, but it’s unlikely that he will retire on a losing team.
After drafting Lamar Jackson, there is hope that this team can be successful again. Jackson won’t get any playing time at quarterback this season, but Suggs will at least stay around for one season while Jackson is the starter, to see if he can turn this organization around. Give it until at least 2020 before Suggs decides to retire.
15 Retire: Brent Grimes - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (CB)
Even at 34 years old, Brent Grimes has been an aggressive cornerback. Since 2013, Grimes has had at least four interceptions each season. But going into his 12th season at 35-years old, there’s a time to move on. Grimes signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers, and has debated retirement in the past. The Buccaneers likely won’t be successful this season with the weak secondary and suspension of Jameis Winston. And no one is going to want to sign an aging cornerback. Look for Grimes to give it his all in final season with the Buccaneers.
14 Retire: Adrian Peterson - Free Agent (RB)
Although Adrian Peterson probably should’ve retired a couple of years ago, he’s still seeing interest from teams this summer.
The New Orleans Saints have mentioned that they would be interested in bringing back Peterson, especially after Mark Ingram got suspended for the first four games of the season.
And honestly, Peterson had a couple of games last season where he looked like himself. Before Alfred Morris gets signed, Peterson has to, for one last season. He’s going to look for a team that he can possibly win a Super Bowl with for his final season, before he decides to retire in 2019.
13 Retire: Brandon Marshall - Seattle Seahawks (WR)
Sometimes, players choose to come back for another season because the previous season wasn’t worth going out on. Brandon Marshall missed most of the 2017 season due to an injury he suffered with the New York Giants. Now signing a one-year deal with the Seahawks, it gives him a great chance to be a big part of this offense, going out strong.
Marshall has opportunities to work on television, so he can retire and be guaranteed a job after retirement. Marshall will give it all he has for a team that he can be a starter with, and whatever happens from there, happens.
12 Stick Around: Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints (QB)
Unless the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl this season, Drew Brees will be back in 2019. Brees signed a two-year deal with the Saints this offseason worth $50 million. So Brees is definitely in it for another two seasons. It seems obvious, but many fans still may believe that he will call it quits after this season. At some point, players want to move on. But, Brees arguably has the best team he’s had throughout his career.
He has a defense that is improving, and it's the best run game the Saints have had in his career. For once, Brees does not need to carry the team on his own.
11 Retire: Antonio Gates - Free Agent (TE)
Antonio Gates’ 2018 season is still up in the air, considering he’s still a free agent. But with the success he’s had throughout his career, he shouldn’t have any issues signing at least a one-year deal.
The Los Angeles Chargers seem to be interested considering Hunter Henry will miss the 2018 season due to a torn ACL.
Other teams that could be interested include the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. The point is, he should play in 2018, and he wants to. But it would be his last season. One more chance to possibly win a championship, something he was never able to do with the Chargers.
10 Retire: Josh McCown - New York Jets (QB)
Josh McCown has the best contract of his career, as he signed a one-year deal worth $10 million to re-sign with the Jets. Coming off of the best season of his career, it makes sense for McCown to come back one more time and cash out. But with Sam Darnold breathing down his neck, this will for sure be his last season.
After suffering a broken hand in 2017, he’s a tough hit away from ending his career. It’s not easy to be a 39-year-old quarterback and take all these hits, unless you’re Tom Brady. McCown won’t go out under the spotlight, but he will go out playing the best football of his career.
9 Retire: Julius Peppers - Carolina Panthers (DE)
Retirement plans were put on hold for Julius Peppers, as he decided to come back for one final season with the Carolina Panthers. Hearing the talks of it, it almost seems certain that Peppers will not be back in 2019. 38-years old is difficult for a defensive end, especially with all the young offensive tackles in the league.
The Panthers are extremely inconsistent, and have struggled every other year. This year would be a struggle, and Peppers is going to get fed up. This season, Peppers will realize how tough it is at his age to keep playing, and choose to step away from the game in 2019.
8 Stick Around: Frank Gore - Miami Dolphins (RB)
No matter how bad an offensive line is, Frank Gore manages to play well each season. New teams haven’t been a problem for him, as he continues to play well. Gore is fifth on the all-time rushing list with 14,026 yards, and should easily pass Curtis Martin, as he only needs another 75 yards.
Gore will play at least two more years to make his way up in the history books, but to also possibly win a championship.
Gore played in one Super Bowl, but may choose to see how free agency goes in 2019, where he may have a better chance of signing with a better team who can give him the success he wants.
7 Retire: Terence Newman - Minnesota Vikings (CB)
The oldest active defensive player, may be no more. Terence Newman signed a one-year deal with the Vikings, to probably finish off his career in Minnesota. Newman will turn 40 years old before the 2018 season starts, which is pretty impressive as a cornerback.
Newman’s playing time is going down as he gets older and his effectiveness decreases. A big reason why he probably wanted to come back was seeing how close the Vikings are to winning a championship. Regardless of how this season goes, it makes sense why Newman wouldn’t want to end his career by getting blown out in the NFC Championship Game.
6 Retire: Marshawn Lynch - Oakland Raiders (RB)
Although Beast Mode really ended in 2014, Marshawn Lynch is playing his final career in Oakland this season. Lynch may try to come back in 2019, playing the final season the Raiders play in Oakland, but with the new direction the team is going, it is highly unlikely Jon Gruden will want to bring him back.
Lynch and Doug Martin will share carries in 2018, but the team will probably look for a future running back as time goes on. Lynch already retired once, so it’s a matter of time before he hangs the cleats up once again. He only came back to the NFL to play for his hometown Raiders, and with the Raiders' impending move to Las Vegas, Lynch's career is in its twilight.
5 Retire: Rob Gronkowski - New England Patriots (TE)
On the field, Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the game right now. Actually, he also may be one of the best pass catchers in the game. But, being that big of a target comes taking a lot of tough hits, that have clearly affected Gronkowski.
The injuries Gronkowski has suffered have made him debate retirement for some time, but 2018 will be the year.
There have been so many speculations on when the end of Gronkowski will come, but this may be the end of the Patriots era. There is no way Gronkowski will want to play another season risking injuries in 2019.
4 Stick Around: Larry Fitzgerald - Arizona Cardinals (WR)
Retiring after this season would make no sense for Larry Fitzgerald. If he retired after the 2017 season, it would have made sense because Carson Palmer did so, as did coach Bruce Arians. But this is really a transition season with signing Sam Bradford, while also drafting Josh Rosen. There’s no way the Cardinals draft Rosen and Fitzgerald decides to retire before he becomes the starter.
Fitzgerald will be turning 35 years old before the season starts, so retirement will be coming soon. But he could shock everyone and play another 2-3 seasons, in hopes of winning a championship. It all comes down to how good Josh Rosen will actually be.
3 Retire: Philip Rivers - Los Angeles Chargers (QB)
Tony Romo won’t be the only future Hall of Famer who retires without a Super Bowl ring. Philip Rivers has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL throughout his career, but may have to retire without a ring. And right now, he’s the odd man out. The Chargers are building a young team around him, and he’s the old man.
Obviously, Rivers isn’t holding the Chargers back from winning, but they still have a few more years before they can legitimately compete. Unfortunately, Rivers has been stuck in a conference with so many great quarterbacks that have the help they need in order to be successful.
2 Retire: Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers (QB)
That’s right, Ben Roethlisberger will retire after this upcoming season. As great as he’s been, this team could possibly lose their franchise running back after this season. Le’Veon Bell has had difficulties landing the long-term deal he’s been looking for. And quite frankly, he may not sign it.
Roethlisberger has also shown signs of wanting to retire, and he will finally make the move.
The frustration will hit him when the Steelers are unable to make it to the Super Bowl, with the Patriots blocking their way.
Roethlisberger will have had enough, and move on with his life. The best Steelers offense in it history may not have what it takes to win a championship.
1 Retire: Tom Brady - New England Patriots (QB)
The end of an era. Tom Brady will retire after the 2018 season. Talks of Brady retiring have been circulating for a while, but it seems like Brady can only go for so long until there’s no point in playing. Many teams are extremely talented, but you can never count the Patriots out when it comes to the Super Bowl. However, NFL QBs declining usually happens quickly. Just look at how quickly Peyton Manning or Brett Favre declined once they turned 40. We also can't count out the lingering tension in New England between Brady and Bill Belichick, who reportedly wanted to move on to Jimmy Garoppolo this season, had he not been forced to trade him.