On February 6th, A.J. Green – born Adriel Jeremiah Green – took to Instagram to officially announce his retirement from the NFL after 11 seasons. Injuries have derailed his career over the past few years, but he was as reliable as wide receivers come whenever healthy – most notably between 2011 and 2018.
Green was drafted No. 4 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 and spent the next 10 seasons with the team (played in nine) before spending his final two years with the Arizona Cardinals. He ends his career with 727 receptions (1,269 targets) for 10,514 yards and 70 touchdowns in 158 career games played.
He had at least 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons in the NFL and six of his first seven – he had 964 yards in just 10 games in 2016, which would’ve made it seven straight. He missed half of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season to injury before fading out of the league – but he was still effective.
Which NFL Players Are Nearing Their Retirement?
A.J. Green isn’t the only NFL player to announce their retirement this offseason. The most notable was Tom Brady, who announced his retirement on February 1 – he originally retired in 2022, but came out of retirement to play one more year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, the QB legend is retired for good.
The other major retirement came from J.J. Watt – one of the greatest defensive players of all-time. He made the announcement in late-December, notifying the league that the 2022 season would be his last. He retires with 586 tackles, 195 tackles for loss, 317 QB hits, 114.5 sacks, and 27 forced fumbles.
The only other player to retire this offseason (so far) was Chad Henne – who was never a true starting quarterback in the NFL, but had a legendary career as a backup. He spent the past four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and is going out on top – winning his first Super Bowl as Patrick Mahomes’ backup.
Let’s take a look at some other NFL players who will likely retire in the next few years!
20. LB Anthony Barr
Anthony Barr was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He spent the first 8 years of his career with the Vikings before playing for the Dallas Cowboys last season. The 2023 season will be his 10th season in the NFL and he’ll be 31 years old by the start of the season.
In 112 games played (108 starts), he has 553 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 48 quarterback hits, 18.5 sacks, 1 safety, 8 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 5 interceptions, 32 passes defensed, and 1 defensive touchdown. He was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls between 2015 and 2018, but hasn’t since.
19. DT Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent his entire 11-year career with the Eagles and, while the 2023 season will be his 12th in the NFL, he’s still effective along the defensive line – finishing the 2022 season with 7.0 sacks in 17 games.
In 173 games played (167 starts), Cox has a career 486 tackles, 85 tackles for loss, 156 quarterback hits, 65.0 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 13 fumble recoveries, 14 passes defensed, and 3 defensive touchdowns. He’s a 6-time Pro Bowler, 4-time All-Pro (first team once), and even won a Super Bowl with the Eagles.
18. K Nick Folk
Nick Folk was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 178 overall pick (6th round) in the 2007 NFL Draft. He has played for four teams in his career – the Cowboys (3 seasons), New York Jets (7 seasons), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 season), and most recently the New England Patriots (4 seasons).
In 211 games played, Folk has hit 353 of his 426 field goals (82.9%) and 458 of his 473 extra point attempts (96.8%). He is 36 of 58 from beyond 50 yards out, 100 of 135 from between 40-49 yards out, and 109 of 118 from between 30-39 yards out. He has also been involved in 719 career kickoffs.
17. P Brett Kern
Brett Kern went undrafted in the 2008 NFL Draft after playing four years of college football at the University of Toledo. He was signed by the Denver Broncos right away and immediately became the team’s starting punter. He was traded the following year and spent the next 12 seasons with the Titans.
The 2022 season was Kern’s 15th season in the NFL – he spent it with the Philadelphia Eagles and made it to the Super Bowl. He has punted the ball 1,006 times in his career for a total of 46,136 yards (45.9 yards per punt). His longest punt was 79 yards, which was good enough to lead the NFL in 2014.
16. LT Duane Brown
Duane Brown was drafted by the Houston Texans with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft – he’ll be 38 years old by the time the 2023 season starts. He spent nine full seasons with the Texans before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in the middle of the 2017 season due to a contract dispute.
Brown would play for the Seahawks through the 2021 season before playing 12 games for the New York Jets in 2022. He has played in 215 games during his career – all of which were starts – and has been an anchor along the offensive line everywhere he has gone. He’s a 5-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro.
15. DB Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty was drafted by the New England Patriots with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft – one year after his twin brother, Jason McCourty (who retired after the 2021 season). Devin has spent his entire 13-year career with the Patriots and has helped them win 3 Super Bowl championships.
In 205 career games played (all of which were starts), McCourty has 971 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 4 quarterback hits, 3.0 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 35 interceptions, 110 passes defensed, and 2 defensive touchdowns. He’s also a 2-time Pro Bowl and 3-time All-Pro defensive back.
14. WR/ST Matthew Slater
Matthew Slater was drafted by the New England Patriots with the No. 153 overall pick (5th round) in the 2008 NFL Draft – he’ll be 38 years old at the start of the 2023 season. He has spent his entire 15-year career with the Patriots and, like Devin McCourty, has been a part of three Super Bowl winning teams.
In 223 games played, Slater has only 3 starts under his belt – he’s primarily a special teams player and kick returner. He made the Pro Bowl as a special teams ace 7 years in a row between 2011 and 2017, and then 3 years in a row between 2019 and 2021. He’s also a 5-time All-Pro (First-Team twice).
13. QB Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft – he’ll be 38 years old by the start of the 2023 season. He was the Falcons’ franchise quarterback up until last season, when he made the transition to the Indianapolis Colts – and let’s just say it didn’t go as expected.
In 234 career games played (all of which were starts), Ryan threw for 62,792 yards, 381 touchdowns, and 183 interceptions – he had a 124-109-1 record as a starter, including a 4-7-1 record last season. He’s a 4-time Pro Bowler that was named MVP of the league and Offensive Player of the Year back in 2016.
12. QB Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft – he just turned 38 years old in January. He spent the first 11 years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens before spending a year with the Denver Broncos and the past three seasons with the New York Jets.
Flacco hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2017 – he was replaced by Lamar Jackson in 2018. In 183 games played (180 starts), he has thrown for 42,320 yards, 232 touchdowns, and 147 interceptions. He has a 99-81 record as starter, but did win Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens and was Super Bowl MVP.
11. TE Marcedes Lewis
Marcedes Lewis was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft – he will be 39 years old by the start of the 2023 season. He spent the first 12 seasons of his career in Jacksonville before spending the past five years with the Green Bay Packers – he’s currently a captain.
In 251 career games played (221 starts), Lewis has 432 catches (730 targets) for 5,084 yards and 39 yards – he’s an even better blocker than he is a receiver, which is why he remains relevant in the league today. He earned his only trip to the Pro Bowl in 2010, catching 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 TDs.
10. LT Jason Peters
Jason Peters went undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft, despite being projected as a 4th round pick as he attempted to make the transition from tight end to offensive lineman. After the conclusion of the draft, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills and has been an offensive tackle ever since.
Not only has he been an offensive tackle, but he has been an anchor at left tackle since the 2005 season. He has played in 238 games and started 219 of those, earning himself 9 trips to the Pro Bowl and winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles. He just turned 41 years old and doesn’t have many years left in him.
9. K Robbie Gould
Robbie Gould went undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft after playing four years of college football at Penn State University. He was immediately signed to the Chicago Bears and spent the next 11 years with the team. After spending a season with the Giants, he is now entering his 7th season with San Francisco.
In 266 career games played, he has hit 447 of his 517 field goals (86.5%) and 620 of his 636 extra point attempts (97.5%) – he has also been involved in 1,008 kickoffs. He’s 36 of 51 from beyond 50 yards out and 134 of 173 from between 40-49 yards out. The 40-year-old is a one-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro.
8. P Andy Lee
Andy Lee was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 188 overall pick (6th round) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He spent the next 11 years with the team before spending a season with the Browns (2015) and Panthers (2016). He finally found a second home with the Cardinals, where he has been for 6 years.
In 297 career games played, Lee has punted the ball 1,466 times for a total of 68,405 yards – an average of 46.7 yards per punt. His longest punt was 82 yards in 2008, which led the league that year – he also led the league in 2004 with an 81-yard punt as a rookie. He’s a 3-time Pro Bowler and 4-time All-Pro.
7. K Matt Prater
Matt Prater went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft after playing four years of college football at the University of Central Florida. He was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, but went 1 for 4 in his debut and later signed with the Denver Broncos. He also played for the Lions and Cardinals.
In 233 career games played, Prater has hit 373 of his 448 field goals (83.3%) and 555 of his 570 extra point attempts (97.4%). He has made 71 (all-time record) of his 95 field goals from beyond 50 yards out and 87 of his 125 field goals from between 40-49 yards. He’ll be 39 years old by the start of the season.
6. K Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 193 overall pick (6th round) of the 2007 NFL Draft – he’ll be 39 years old by the start of the 2023 season. He has spent his entire 16-year career with the Packers and has been one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL since joining the league.
In 258 career games played, Crosby has hit 395 of his 485 field goals (81.4%) and 733 of his 753 extra point attempts (97.3%). He has made 43 of his 78 field goals from 50+ yards out and 101 of his 135 field goals from 40-49 yards out. He won the 2011 Super Bowl with the Packers, going 3 for 4 in the playoffs.
5. WR Julio Jones
Julio Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft – he just turned 34 years old this month. He spent the first 10 years of his career in Atlanta with Matt Ryan as his quarterback, but hasn’t been the same since. He spent 2021 with the Titans and 2022 with Tampa Bay.
In 155 games played (149 starts), Jones has caught 903 passes (1,411 targets) for 13,629 yards and 63 touchdowns – he led the NFL in yards twice and receptions once. He’s a 7-time Pro Bowler and a 5-time All-Pro (First Team twice). He also came in sixth place in Offensive Player of the Year voting in 2015.
4. DE Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 50 overall pick (2nd round) of the 2008 NFL Draft – he’ll be 37 years old by the start of the 2023 season. He spent 9 years with the Cardinals, 3 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the past 3 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.
In 227 career games played (208 starts), Campbell has 809 tackles, 165 tackles for loss, 2 safeties, 99.0 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 57 passes defensed, and 3 defensive TDs. He’s a 6-time Pro Bowler, 3-time All-Pro, and was Defensive Player of the Year runner-up in 2017.
3. QB Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft – he just turned 39 years old in December. He spent the first three years of his career as the backup QB to Hall of Famer Brett Favre and has been the starting QB for the Packers for the past 15 seasons.
In 230 career games played (223 starts), Rodgers has a 147-75-1 record and has thrown for 59,055 yards, 475 touchdowns, and 105 interceptions. He’s a 10-time Pro Bowler, 5-time All-Pro, 4-time MVP, one-time Super Bowl champion, and one-time Super Bowl MVP. He’ll be returning for a 19th season.
2. DT Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald was drafted by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and has been with the franchise for the past 9 seasons. He’ll be turning 32 years old in May and, while that isn’t old compared to some other players, he has already contemplated retirement numerous times.
In 138 career games played (134 starts), Donald has 490 tackles, 160 tackles for loss, 237 quarterback hits, 1 safety, 103.0 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, and 7 fumble recoveries. He’s a 9-time Pro Bowler, 7-time All-Pro, former Defensive Rookie of the Year, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, and future HOFer.
1. C Jason Kelce
Jason Kelce was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 191 overall pick (6th round) of the 2011 NFL Draft. He has spent his entire 12-year career with the franchise and has established himself as one of the most reliable and funniest centers in the league. He has already been contemplating retirement.
In 176 career games played, Kelce has started all of them and has only missed 18 games in his career – 14 of which came during the 2012 season. He’s a 6-time Pro Bowl center, 5-time All-Pro center, and won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2018. In my opinion, he’s a future HOFer – he certainly has the resume.
What’s Next for NFL Players After Retirement?
Every NFL player has a unique story coming into the league and the same goes for their retirement – no two stories are ever the same. Some players retire due to age, some retire due to injury, some retire due to lack of opportunity, and some retire due to a lack of motivation – they don’t love the game anymore.
Either way, most NFL stars will retire between the ages of 30 and 40, meaning they have a lot of life left to live and a lot of time to focus on other hobbies, interests, and careers. What they do with the time is 100% up to them and will likely depend on how much money they’ve managed to save from their playing days.
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With that said, most NFL players will either devote their time to their family, get involved in various investment opportunities, or turn to a new career. Just look at Tom Brady, who is expected to take a year off from everything before starting his new career as a sports commentator/analyst for FOX Sports.
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