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.
Dansby has ultimately not been what he was supposed to be out of college. It would be wise if the 34-year-old retired, spent some time with his family and maybe found a new hobby. Football was good to him, but he can do no good to it anymore. It doesn't seem like a contending team will offer him anything, so why spend your twilight years with a mediocre team?
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.
Regardless, I think it will benefit him significantly, at least physically, if he decided to retire sometime this offseason. His career was great, but prolonging the inevitable doesn't make much sense to me. This being said, Boldin was not horrible this season, and did have eight touchdowns. For someone of this age, Boldin produced far more than anybody thought. Wouldn't it be better for him to go out on a high note?
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.
It's time that he accepts that the game has passed him by and walk away while still in good health. Let's not forget all the injury troubles Vick has had in his career.
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?
Sometimes it's better to leave the game a little too early, rather than too late.
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.
He will be doing his team a service by retiring and allowing the younger, less experienced QB learn his way into stardom. Cutler is way past his days in Denver, where he was a much better and more promising quarterback. It seems his reputation will inevitably ruin his career, and maybe already has.
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.
The Browns should cut McCown this offseason and from there, the best option for McCown would be to retire.
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).
Marcedes is 32 years old, and the Jaguars would do well to pick another fresh talent out of the NFL Draft to be on their team. Unfortunately, Lewis lacks the speed or basic strength he had as a younger player in the NFL. There are still a lot of uncertainty around the Jags and if they'll be able to turn things around. Not a good place for a player to play in his twilight years.
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.
He is not injury-prone, but at his age, 38, anything can happen. To play in the NFL at age 40 would be insane for a corner, and just not worth it. He should save his body, and more importantly, his mind, and retire. He can enjoy all the money he has earned and, well, do anything the hell he wants with it.
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.
Now 34 years old, Peters faces the very good option to retire. He has been getting consulted for years about this, and maybe it may finally run its course -- he just has to consider retirement benefits. Peters was not as good on the Eagles as he was with the Bills, so many wonder whether he would be productive on another team.
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.
Rather than getting released, which may not necessarily happen, he should retire and accept the league benefits that the NFL has to offer. Additionally, Golston should separate himself from Vernon -- the much better NFL version of himself. Anyway, retire Kedric.
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.
Bush has had trouble staying healthy his entire career. After a scary knee injury on the St. Louis sidelines ended his 2015 season, Bush came back this season with the Buffalo Bills, but looked nothing like the player we saw 10 years ago. He's not going to be much of a contributor if he does stick around and that's probably not the way Bush wants to be remembered.
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.
The University of Texas-Austin alum is known for some of the craziest, and some of the longest kicks of his time. Dawson is known for his days in Cincy, Cleveland, and in San Fransisco. He is a true legend of the game, at least in the kicking regard, but his time has been valuable enough. There are plenty of kickers to fill his spot, and I am sure he understands that.
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.
Regardless, Romo may consider moving on to New York or Denver, both of which would be bad. He should retire with the Cowboys -- the same team that helped him succeed in the league. With his history of back injuries, it'd be wise for him to retire in good health.
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.
Gates should retire this offseason, and think about his future. His future will not involve football, but rather doing something normal and reliving the glory days. The Chargers may be on the move to L.A. this season and there's just too much uncertainty in the organization for Gates to stick around.
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.