Some NFL players choose to beat the horse, not until it is injured, but absolutely dead. This is a metaphor, of course, for the fact that many football players are sticking around in the league until they have no juice left in the tank. Of course, some players continue to play well into their old age, but for many of them, it may be time to hang up their cleats. After all, football is for the young -- it can ruin your life physically. Too many players walk away from the game with more than a bruise; a life threatening injury is not out the question for many of the older guys playing in the NFL.
Do they do it for the money, the women, or simply because they love the game? Hell, maybe they continue their careers because of all three. If one thing is for certain, the NFL needs dedicated guys, but fans don't want to see their childhood heroes get beaten up, or just play so long that they eventually start to decline.
This article is for the fans, but mostly for the players (if they happen to wander into this site's depths). Football is a dangerous sport, but if they retire, they can save some time, and do some other cool stuff. We've seen a trend in recent years of players retiring before 30, in the interest of living a pain-free life in their later years. We expect that to continue as more players are aware of the after-effects that a physical sport like football could cause.
These are 15 NFL players who should retire this offseason.
15 Karlos Dansby
Dansby played college football at Auburn up until 2004. He is 34 years old, and is out of his prime. He has sort of bounced around in recent years. In 2013, he played in Arizona, played two years with the Browns, and one year with the Bengals. His college career was significantly better than his professional one. Dansby ought to save himself some time away from football and retire while he is physically unharmed.
14 Anquan Boldin
Boldin will always be regarded as one of the best NFL receivers to come through the league. He was great for the Cardinals, and for the Ravens. Boldin's career is winding down, as he finishes his career (hopefully) with the Lions. Boldin has been pretty flip-flop as to what he will do at the end of the season. In some cases, he has said he will retire, while in others, he argues that he will stay around for another year.
13 Michael Vick
You may have been under the impression that Michael Vick was already retired, but the reason he didn't play in 2016 is because no team wanted him. Vick last served as a backup to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh back in the 2015 season, but the Steelers chose not to re-sign him. Vick has said multiple times this past year that he thinks he can still be a starter in the NFL. That's simply not true at this point. Vick was never the most accurate passer and in his mid 30s, he has lost the explosive mobility that made him a star in the league.
12 Julius Peppers
At 36 years old, Peppers may retire this offseason. He had a great game in the playoffs against the Giants, causing a big sack on Eli Manning at the end of the game in the wildcard round. Peppers is not bad at 36 years old, but he will slow down at one point or another. After this season, regardless of whether the Packers win a championship or not, Peppers should seriously consider the idea of retirement. He is more prone to injuries than other players playing his position, and concussions can really screw up someone's life. Peppers is productive, but will not be at some point. Is there anything wrong with salvaging what's left of his career now, before it goes downhill?
11 Jay Cutler
Cutler had a rough year in Chicago this season. He got benched mid-way through this season, and is not playing like his usual self. He has two options at this point in his career at 33, which is not THAT old. He can retire or move on to another team. If he retires, he may be able to retain an okay reputation as an NFL quarterback. I fear that if he remains in the NFL, he will falter and continue to struggle. Cutler is prone to throw interceptions, and overthrows his receivers often.
10 Josh McCown
McCown has never really been a long-term starter in the NFL. He isn't a horrible QB, but has never been that productive. He ended up starting for the Browns this season, an unfortunate circumstance for the fans in Ohio. The 37-year-old from Sam Houston State struggles with accuracy. Josh would do himself a service by retiring, or really just remaining a third string QB on another team. McCown threw six touchdowns this season, and had 1,100 yards, while battling injuries. In his 15th season, Josh also threw six interceptions this year. Since he threw the same amount of touchdowns as picks, it doesn't make sense for him to voluntarily WANT to stick around the NFL.
9 Marcedes Lewis
Lewis got injured and didn't play at all in the 2016 NFL season. He hasn't been ultra-productive over the last couple seasons, and it would do him well to retire. Lewis used to be a downfield threat for the Jaguars, but over time, and with age, has reverted to an old tight end past his prime. Lewis has 28 touchdowns over his career, and only had one this season (thanks to an injury).
8 Terence Newman
Newman is way past his prime and now plays for the Minnesota Vikings. He was once considered a league threat, but only had one interception this NFL season. Next year, entering his 15th season, he would be wise to retire gracefully. His career will never be the same as it once was. Newman has never been a superstar, but leaving the league would keep some goodness to his name. His career has went in zig zags, from the Cowboys, to the Bengals, then to the Vikings.
7 Jason Peters
The former Pro Bowl player has significant injury issues. He hurts his back often and has trouble staying on for most plays in a game. Peters should save his health and retire. He is a good blocker, but there are PLENTY of those in the NFL. People make the argument that the league is declining in this regard, but there is always a down position -- blockers will be fine without Peters.
6 Kedric Golston
Golston, now 33 years old, should honestly hang up his jersey. He is not an impact player and his presence will not be missed in Washington. He only started two games this season, none the year before, and none the year before that. He is an injury-prone defensive end who never hit his stride in the league. He has been playing in D.C. for a decade, and his time playing within this system may be coming to an abrupt end for him. The team is set to hire a new defensive coordinator and he may not be in that new DC's plans.
5 Reggie Bush
This one is long overdue, as Reggie Bush hasn't been an effective NFL player for several years now. He was never a great full-time starter to begin with, but now, he lacks the explosiveness that made him such a dangerous player earlier in his career. After the Saints let him go, Bush had some success as a starter in Miami, but eventually the Dolphins didn't think his production equaled that of a starter.
4 Phil Dawson
Dawson has been a good NFL kicker for a long time. He has contributed to the NFL for quite a while. Now 41 years old, Dawson should retire. I know kickers don't really get hit or anything like that, but they CAN. The point is, Dawson has been kicking field goals and punting balls for as long as he can remember, but retiring would do him just as well. He should save his body and physical shape for other tasks.
3 Tony Romo
Tony Romo got replaced this season in Dallas because of his injury. The beloved QB may retire, or just move on to another team after this season. Dak Prescott, a fresh-legged QB, seems to be a potentially high-end quarterback. He led the Cowboys to an amazing season, and now they seem poised to be a Super Bowl contender for the next few years. Romo could do his name well to retire a Cowboy, and maybe can even become a coach for the team. Romo will always be held highly in Cowboys fans' hearts, but he already had his time in Texas.
2 Antonio Gates
Gates has sort of been replaced in San Diego. The no doubt Hall of Fame tight end who revolutionized the game may not be wearing a Chargers jersey next season. Hunter Henry has emerged as a tight end threat in San Diego, and proves to be comparable to Gates (currently). At one point, Gates was undoubtedly the best tight end the NFL had to offer -- a strong and powerful tight end who had the ability to make big plays. Actually, he still is a pretty good player, but he is expendable for the Chargers right now.
1 Ryan Fitzpatrick
Where to start with Fitzpatrick. The Harvard alum is a detriment to any team for which he plays for. He came into the Jets camp late this season after demanding a pay raise due to his solid 2015 season. It's clear by this point though, that Fitzpatrick is not a longterm answer to be any team's starting QB and any team that signs him is just signing up for an average season. Fitzpatrick is only going to decline further from here and it would be best for him to leave the game with some dignity. The Jets shouldn't bring him back, nor should any other team.
Considering his Wonderlic score and college achievements, Fitzpatrick could retire now and probably get a high-paying job elsewhere in the world.
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