All good things must come to an end. So saith the adage. Regarding the NFL, anything over a 10 year career is good. For some, getting beyond the decade stretch is nothing short of a miracle. Sadly, a career in the National Football League isn’t comparable to a player’s desire to continue playing. For the 10 people on this list, they need to consider stepping away from the game they love, for a variety of reasons. We’ll address them all–well, most of them, at least.
10. Zach Strief
The Saints longtime offensive tackle has seen better days. 2015 was better than 2014, when Zach’s game forced Drew Brees to throw under more pressure than he had ever dealt with in New Orleans. Zach may still have some fuel in the tank, but he’s not cutting it at tackle, facing younger and more talented defensive ends, and outside linebackers with each passing season. We don’t think Zach will hang up the cleats just yet, but we do believe the 10 year veteran knows he is about to be surpassed on the depth chart by Andrus Peat, who will enter his second season with the Saints in 2016. Zach could serve as a utility lineman, but with the Saints struggling to get under the cap, his days could be numbered. He has repeatedly stated he would retire before playing for another franchise.
9. Jerricho Cotchery
His big drop in the Super Bowl should have been ruled a rather spectacular catch, but he shouldn’t have been bobbling the ball to begin with. The 13-year veteran should have been a steady Eddie for Cam Newton, but like everyone on Carolina’s roster, Jerricho struggled mightily in Super Bowl 50. Carolina will likely move on from personnel like Cotchery in the off-season, with Kelvin Benjamin promising to return in 2016, and it’s hard to imagine another squad reaching out to a will-be, 34 year old wide receiver who possesses a diminishing skill set. We’re certainly not faulting Jerricho if he decides to play the wait-and-see game, but if he has other career interests, it might be the right time to get his name into the hat.
8. Jason Pierre-Paul
Is anyone going to take a chance on JPP? What a tragedy. This guy must be tough as nails, because he was interacting on social media after blowing off half of his right hand in the summer of 2015. Fireworks are no joke, people. A quick timeline. Jason mangled his hand over the Fourth of July holiday. Doctors wanted to amputate. He begged them to do whatever they could to save what he had left. He healed enough to play, and started for the New York Giants in 2015/2016, wearing a giant cast over his mangled hand-thing. Now, it’s looking like the Giants may release him. And we’re back to the beginning. Will anyone take a chance on Jason Pierre-Paul? He might be a high-risk, high-reward acquisition, but we’re guessing he gets no more than a year with someone, if at all. It might be time to hang ’em up.
7. James Harrison
James Harrison has called it quits, come back, called it quits, come back and now is fully intent on playing the 2016 season. He may hate the current state of the NFL, but he probably doesn’t hate that it is geared toward healthful sustainability. At this point, James Harrison’s mental game is an asset to fledgling Pittsburgh defense, but his roster spot is costing the team an opportunity to move forward. Do the Steelers stand a strong chance of being in the mix next season? Not if they don’t get some help in the secondary, and James’ skills at the LB position aren’t exactly peaking. 2016 will serve as the final season on his existing contract. As random as NFL drug testing allegedly is, we don’t think it was a coincidence James was ordered to submit samples the day after he made his intentions clear for the 2016 season.
6. Matt Schaub
It’s just not happening for Matt Schaub. He finally scored an opportunity to step in for an injured Joe Flacco, and a beat up Baltimore Ravens squad, late in the 2015 season. That ended with him getting busted up. Sure, Matt could, and will continue to play a backup role in the NFL, so we’re really addressing NFL owners. Nothing personal against Matt, but the guy has never led any squad to victory, not even with an impressive arsenal around him. We understand there is a thought that Matt can manage a team in the event a starter goes down, but honestly, to what extent? Will he ever beat a quality opponent? No. It’s time for teams to move on, and for Matt to move on. He had a great run. Better than anyone would have expected.
5. Greg Jennings
The aging wide receiver was once a burner for the Green Bay Packers, boasting 4.4 speed, and great route running capability. He enjoyed the beginning of his career with Brett Favre, the majority of it with Aaron Rodgers and the most recent chapter with…? Do you know who Greg played for in 2015? If you’re a fantasy fiend, you probably do. However, most general football fans who avoid fantasy for sake of sanity probably lost track of Greg. He played for Miami in 2015. And it’s not good that the headlines he’s making in the NFLsphere have to do with knocks on his 2015 QB, Ryan Tannehill. Basically, he threw his QB under the bus, stating that Ryan is far from elite. At least he blamed former coaches for the issues. Seeing Greg make the media rounds, maybe he’s pushing for that post-playing career in the booth?
4. Steven Jackson
Steven is done. He was pulled from what seemed like a forced retirement to suit up for the New England Patriots after the team lost LaGarrette Blount for the season, and Steven proved to be effective in very short yardage situations. He even punched the ball into the end zone on a couple occasions. Does Steven have enough in the tank, or do the Patriots have the desire to get him into OTAs? He could possibly be an effective back for the right squad, and that squad could be New England, but seeing how easy Steven was to defend in Atlanta, it seemed like the fire was gone. We hope he’ll tip his cap to the Patriots, thank them for the opportunity to be on the field one more time, playing in a few big games, and then let everyone know that he’s stepping away from the game.
3. Jamaal Charles
This one hurts to write. Jamaal is still a young man. He won’t turn 30 until late in the 2016 season. Alas, his health has become a concern. Suffering multiple ACL tears is bad news. Most players who experience such a string of (what we’ll call) bad luck, call it quits. Jamaal is a workout warrior, and will come back from this injury no problem. The problems arise when considering foresight, and other damage sustained during both those ACL tears, notably, cartilage. There is no doubt Jamaal has a lot left in the tank, but the smart move for Kansas City would be to move on. Spencer Ware looked like an absolute animal after Jamaal’s injury, and Charcandrick West was also effective out of the backfield. The team went 11-1 without him. We bet Chip Kelly would love Jamaal in San Francisco, but again… how will he bounce back?
2. Michael Vick
What could have been? We’ll always wonder. Michael Vick did a crime–a crime that many were involved in, and didn’t take it on the chin like Mike did–and then, he did his time. He still has a legion of detractors, people who believe others can’t/don’t change. Generally, those are people who have never changed anything about themselves towards betterment, but we’ll leave that for Dr. Phil’s blog. As far as Vick is concerned, his athleticism is supreme, but he can’t stay healthy. He can’t take hits. Perhaps he could deliver them? Move him to defensive back? Sadly, it seems it is time to say farewell to the Michael Vick era in the NFL. Would it be awesome to see his career resurrect one last time, as a starter, leading a team to the playoffs for a run at an improbable title? Sign us up for that drama.
1. Peyton Manning
Make the call, Peyton. Set up the press conference. Show up in your Archie Manning #8, New Orleans Saints jersey, tell everyone how it started there, and how you’re ready to move on to whatever may be next. The stink of the Shaun King (the hack journalist/activist, not the former football player) stories swirling around Peyton’s head…? They could get Peyton’s goat. He won’t want to retire amid controversy. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Peyton go play a season for the Los Angeles Rams, as Magic Johnson requested on The Tonight Show. Peyton needs to walk away from the game. We presume he will after he’s able to sit down with John Elway, because there is no way Denver is paying Peyton to suit up next season. And we should hear this news within the next couple of weeks. Just don’t be surprised if…