Who are the oldest players in the NFL, and when should they retire?

Who are the oldest players in the NFL, and when should they retire?

With only a few weeks left in the NFL regular season, and with Philip Rivers turning 39 today, it’s time to take a look at some of the grizzled vets of the league. Actually, the grizzliest, if you will. Some should probably hang it up after week 17. Others may have a few years left in the tank.

All players listed were born before December 31, 1981.

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Andrew Whitworth, 38

Andrew Whitworth, 38

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The oldest offensive lineman in the league signed a three year extension with the Rams in March, but he can retire when he wants to. The two time All-Pro has played in at least ten games dating back to his rookie season in 2006. This year, however, Whitworth suffered a knee injury in November. The injury is reportedly not season ending, but it could be tough for Whitworth to play a 10th game in 2020.

Whitworth will turn 39 on Saturday, December 12. Whether or not he makes a recovery this year, I have a feeling he’ll be back for 2021. He’s still productive and beloved by his teammates. Why not give it another go?

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Philip Rivers, 39

Philip Rivers, 39

Illustration for article titled Who are the oldest players in the NFL, and when should they retire?
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Happy Birthday, Philip! Rivers was born a year to the day after the assassination of John Lennon. He has already signed up for another job once he retires from the NFL. When will he step away from playing the game? Not sure, exactly. But a High School head coaching job in Fairhope, Alabama awaits the eight-time Pro Bowler whenever he wants to return to his home state.

Some wondered if Rivers would retire last year after he was released by the Chargers. But he took a job with Indy and earned a starting role. It’s probably not going to get any better for Rivers, who will likely return to the playoffs this year and maybe win a game in January.

Leave on a high note. Retire after the season. Those high schoolers are waiting.

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Don Muhlbach, 39

Don Muhlbach, 39

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The 39-year-old long snapper has been with the Lions since 2004. He’s the only consistent thing about that organization. No burner account controversies that whole time either, ahem.

Muhlbach has played in two Pro Bowls, most recently in 2018. So why not keep playing? Who says kickers should be the only old special-teams guys?

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Matt Schaub, 39

Matt Schaub, 39

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Once upon a time, Matt Schaub was a starting quarterback who played in playoff games and Pro Bowls. Now, he is a 39 year old backup behind Matt Ryan (35).

Schaub would be 40 by the time next season rolls around. With a career 47-46-0 QB record, why not just end it as an above .500 quarterback? If Schaub does decide to leave after 2020, he’ll have a better winning percentage than future Hall of Famer (sorry, haters) Eli Manning.

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L.P. Ladouceur, 39

L.P. Ladouceur, 39

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Louis Phillippe, L.P. for short, is just a few months older than Muhlbach, making him the oldest long snapper in the NFL. He’s been with the Cowboys since 2005 and signed a one year deal in March for the 2020 season.

In his 16 years in the league, the Montreal native has played the most consecutive games in Dallas Cowboys history. He has also played the most consecutive games by a long snapper in NFL history.

Don’t miss a game now. These are some good stats to retire with.

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Josh McCown, 41

Josh McCown, 41

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Josh McCown retired in 2019. He joined the Eagles a few months later. After spending time as Philadelphia’s COVID-reserve QB, the veteran recently joined Houston.

McCown has suited up for, are you ready to count? The Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Dolphins, Panthers, 49ers, Bears, Bucs, Browns, Jets, Eagles, and the Texans. That’s over a third of all NFL teams. McCown also had a stint in the UFL with the Hartford Colonials in 2010.

McCown’s productive on-field days are over. Hopefully ESPN still has a job for him when he retires. Which should come soon.

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Drew Brees, 41

Drew Brees, 41

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Brees won’t say it publicly, but this could be his last year in New Orleans. The former Super Bowl MVP and 13-time Pro Bowler will turn 42 next month and the injuries are starting to pile up. Last year, a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb forced Brees to miss five games. This year, the QB suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung in Week 10. He’s been out ever since.

Sean Peyton has given no timetable on Brees’ return. But assuming he comes back, this year could be his last shot to win a second Super Bowl.

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Tom Brady, 43

Tom Brady, 43

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Brady’s not going anywhere anytime soon. We’re stuck with him for another two years at least.

TB12 has already said he wants to play till he’s 45, but he may go longer. Unless he falls off a cliff, there’s no stopping the oldest active player in the league.

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Matt Bryant, 45

Matt Bryant, 45

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I say oldest active player in the league for Tom Brady because there are two older free agents in the NFL. Matt Bryant is one of them.

The longtime kicker began his NFL tenure in 2002. Since then, he’s played for five teams most notably with Atlanta. But last year, Bryant had his lowest FG percentage of his career. We’ve seen teams sign kickers at a moment’s notice this season due to COVID, so it makes sense for Bryant to keep his name out there. But I’m not sure how good the future 46-year-old could be if a team signs him in 2021.

The former Pro Bowler had a fine NFL journey. But it’s probably time to hang the boots up for “Money Matt.”

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Adam Vinatieri, 47

Adam Vinatieri, 47

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No, he didn’t retire. The oldest player in the NFL is still a free agent.

Vinatieri is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer and has made the most field goals in league history (599). The 2019 season was a rough one for the kicking GOAT, but he’s still available for hire. 600 would be a nice even number to retire on …

The Italian Stallion will turn 48 on December 28.

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Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions

Frank Gore, 37

Gore is the oldest running back in the league. He is also ridiculously underrated.

If Gore stays in the league any longer, he could play with his son, Frank Gore Jr., currently a freshman RB at Southern Miss. But if this is the last year for Papa Gore, please, Jets, don’t let this legend go 0-16 in his last year.

Larry Fitzgerald, 37

Fitzgerald is the oldest wide receiver in the league. Can he stick around long enough for another Super Bowl chance? It won’t happen this year, folks. Maybe next?

Jason Peters, 38

The Philadelphia tackle is just a few weeks younger than Andrew Whitworth. Peters has started eight games for the birds in what could be his last year.

Jason Witten, 38

He announced his retirement from the NFL in May 2018. Then he went into the booth. He retired from that (thankfully) and is the oldest tight end in football.

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