The NFL offseason has been ongoing for a few months now, but multiple veterans have yet to sign a new contract. Once seen as some of the most dominant players at their respected positions, in 2017, I believe the mentioned names need to elect to retire, before their physical health, as well as legacy, begins to suffer.
1. Dwight Freeney (Defensive End, 37-Years Old)
Over the years, Freeney has spent a majority of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, and was viewed as one of the most feared pass rushers in the league. Posting 8+ sacks in nine of his fifteen seasons in the NFL, Freeney even lead the league in sacks in 2004, when he recorded 16 at the time.
On the other hand, since walking away from the Colts, Freeney has played on three different teams since 2013, including the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and most recently, the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. While Freeney could very well be useful to an NFL franchise seeking some help on the defensive front, his talent has slightly regressed over the years.
The last time Freeney hit double-digit sacks in a regular season? That would be in 2010 with the Colts. The 37-year old has a history of missing regular season games due to health and rest, so if I’m an NFL GM, I’m looking at more durable options on the free agent market.
2. Antonio Cromartie (Cornerback, 33-Years Old)
Drafted in 2006 by the San Diego Chargers, Antonio Cromartie has been one of the most respected defensive backs during his prime. With a league-leading 10 interceptions in 2007, Cromartie was essentially once capable of shutting down the top receivers in the NFL.
Since his 2007 year, it should be noted that Cromartie has never finished with 5+ interceptions, which is why he has never been in the same sentence as players such as Revis, Woodson, etc.
3. Darrelle Revis (Cornerback, 31-Years Old)
Spending eight of the last ten seasons with the New York Jets, Darrelle Revis will likely go down as one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. With 137 defended passes, as well as 29 total interceptions, Revis is one of the few NFL stars that are past their primes. In 2016 alone, Revis only had two games in which he recorded 5+ tackles, and he evidently looked out of shape.
The cornerback position is one of the hardest to play in the NFL, and Revis deserves all the credit that will be coming his way. The Jets have looked into the opportunity of placing Revis as a safety, but he simply can not hold his own against opposing receivers. With options such as Sam Shields and Justin Gilbert still on the market, I don’t expect for Revis to be mulling offers for much longer before announcing his retirement from the NFL.
4. Chris Johnson (Running Back, Arizona Cardinals)
Having spent a long six years during his prime with the Tennessee Titans, Chris “CJ2K” Johnson was one of the most versatile running backs in the NFL. Rushing for 1000+ yards in all six of those seasons, Johnson also ran in for a total of 50 touchdowns.
Since his departure from the Titans, Johnson has gone on to play for both the New York Jets, as well as most recently, the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, Johnson has never ran for over 900 yards in one season, and his total touchdown amount has been reduced to only 5.
Johnson has had one of the better careers for a running back, but if he’s looking to play on a contending franchise, most franchises (Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Raiders) all have answers to their backfield. Unless Johnson takes a veteran minimum contract for one season, and plays as a situational weapon, Johnson’s career is as good as over.
5. Victor Cruz (Wide Receiver, 30-Years Old)
Having played the last six seasons with the New York Giants, Cruz is someone that many will be surprised to see appear on this list. The problem with Cruz isn’t his lack of talent, but it’s with his ability to stay healthy on the field. Cruz hasn’t posted a 1000-yard receiving season since his campaign in 2012, and has since missed 29 regular season games.
In 2016, the 30-year old played in 15 regular season games, yet his stats were underwhelming to many. Posting 586 receiving yards and 1 touchdown, Cruz is an individual that has yet to bounce back from his injury troubles.
With visits scheduled with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears, and even the Baltimore Ravens, it’s unlikely that Cruz will opt to retire before the 2017-18 season starts up. Unfortunately, I don’t see Cruz posting 1000+ yards ever again, and it will be an accomplishment to even play all 16 scheduled games this upcoming season.