Retirement comes quickly for NFL players. With the amount of contact that is involved in football, careers sometimes don't last very long. In the current age of football, 10 to 12 years seems like a lengthy career. Unfortunately, careers are shortening, as more players are suffering concussions and understanding the consequences they will suffer from when they retire.
Some NFL players that have retired already need to make a return, while some players need to consider retiring now. Although players retire, many of them continue to stay in shape. Some for their own personal reasons, others just in case they wanted to make a return.
There are quite a few players that are in shape and good enough to make an impact on a team. Some active players don't have much more to give to the game, and it makes sense to toss in the towel. There's been a lot of great retired players recently, so the game would add more talent once again.
20 Return: Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson followed in the steps former Lion Barry Sanders. He retired at an early age, avoiding injury and taking himself away from a struggling team. It’s been four years since Johnson retired when he finished with his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Johnson is still in shape and left the game as the best receiver in the NFL.
19 Retire: Delanie Walker
Ever since Delanie Walker joined the Titans in 2013, he’s been one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He finished with over 800 receiving yards four times throughout his time in Tennessee. Unfortunately, he’s dealt with injuries in the last two years. At 35-years old, he’s hitting a point where he’s best of retiring to avoid anything further injuries.
18 Return: Andrew Luck
Maybe a year off will make Andrew Luck realize he misses the game of football, or that he’s really enjoying retirement. He’s only 30-years old, so he has more years left that he could play. Injuries he suffered might scare him off of the idea of playing again. As good as Jacoby Brissett has been, the Colts might be a Super Bowl team with Luck.
17 Retire: Aqib Talib
For years, Aqib Talib was considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Now he’s a washed-up overpaid cornerback, who was traded to one of the worst teams in the league. Talib had a great career, but he should consider retirement. He’s not going to see the money he wants, or the market to have a lot of options.
16 Return: Tony Romo
Tony Romo is great in the booth, but many forget how good he was on the football field. Criticized due to the lack of success, he was consistently one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Romo was healthy to end his career but was left on the bench due to the emergence of Dak Prescott. Seeing the knowledge Romo has, it would be incredible to see him return to play for a Super Bowl contender.
15 Retire: Frank Gore
Frank Gore is third on the all-time rushing list but might not be able to break Emmitt Smith’s record. It makes sense why he would want to continue playing, as he can top the list. He still plays at a high level, but he doesn’t fit the modern-day need for a running back. He’s playing at a high level for a playoff team, which might be the perfect send-off.
14 Return: James Harrison
James Harrison has taken part in an interview showcasing how he’s stayed in shape after his career. He was still good towards the end of his career and could easily find another team if he wanted to return to the game. His ability to be disruptive on the defensive line would have some teams calling.
13 Retire: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Despite how bad the Dolphins are playing; Ryan Fitzpatrick is still having fun. He got the opportunity to start again, and it might be his last. He’s not playing the best football he’s ever played, but he’s looked decent at different moments. It makes sense to end his career as a starter where people might look at his legacy differently.
12 Return: Joe Thomas
There might not be a single-player the city of Cleveland would want to come out of retirement over Joe Thomas. The Browns need an offensive tackle, and Thomas was one of the best in the game. His leadership could also be used to help balance out this discombobulated Browns' defense.
11 Retire: Josh McCown
Josh McCown initially retired but came back to be the backup for Carson Wentz. Obviously, it seems that a paycheck was worth coming out of retirement, but sometimes you hit an age where your body can’t take the beating anymore. McCown would be 41-years old to start the 2020 season. It might be time to hang up the cleats permanently.
10 Return: DeMarco Murray
DeMarco Murray’s career could’ve been much greater than it was. He retired at an early age, after playing only seven seasons in the NFL. As a Cowboy, he looked like the best running back in the NFL. His decision to sign with the Eagles was clearly a mistake, although he did add another 1,000-yard season in 2016 with the Titans. He was still really good with the Titans, he just needed a better fit.
9 Retire: Jason Witten
Jason Witten came out of retirement this season, and maybe he shouldn’t have. He’s been good at times, but he’s also hurt this team at times. His inability to gain yards after the catch and maybe some routine catches have hurt the Cowboys. He’s also preventing a young star in Blake Jarwin from hitting the field. Unless Witten is willing to take a smaller role, he needs to head back to retirement.
8 Return: Sebastian Janikowski
Sebastian Janikowski was known for having one of the strongest legs in the NFL. He finished his career with an 80% field goal percentage. Considering the struggles many teams have had at the kicker position, many teams would be interested if Janikowski returned. The inconsistencies at kicker for many teams would give Janikowski many options, with a solid contract on the table.
7 Retire: Tom Brady
There’s a lot of rumors going around regarding Tom Brady’s future, much referring to how he might choose to leave New England. It doesn’t make sense for Brady’s legacy to leave. He’s had such an excellent tenure in New England, and based on the way he’s playing, he might not be all that great elsewhere.
6 Return: Jordy Nelson
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see Jordy Nelson return? Nelson’s one season in Oakland didn’t go as planned, and he eventually decided to retire. Looking at the Packers, they could certainly use Nelson. Besides Davante Adams, they desperately need another playmaker. If Nelson could be half the player he was, it would be an upgrade.
5 Retire: Philip Rivers
As of right now, Philip Rivers is having the worst season of his career. He’s turning the ball over a lot and struggling to make a lot of the throws that he used to make. It seems that maybe age is catching up to him, which lights up the retirement button. NFL fans wish they could see him win a Super Bowl, but it doesn’t look like he has the talent to do so anymore.
4 Return: Doug Baldwin
Doug Baldwin was electric at the end of his career but decided to retire early after suffering an injury. He still has the talent to play, and his route running was immaculate. He would be a great addition to a team like the Raiders who have talent but could use another talented receiver to help them in big games.
3 Retire: Jordan Reed
Jordan Reed has dealt with concussions throughout his career, which could lead to severe brain damage further in life. At this point, Reed has to think about after football rather than the money that comes with the game. As good of a tight end as he is, it’s not worth risking his life.
2 Return: Rob Gronkowski
On Fox Sports, Rob Gronkowski mentioned that he would consider playing for the Cowboys if the opportunity was there. Many sources also speculated that Gronkowski could make a return this season to the Patriots, which he later denied. Injuries have derailed his career, but when healthy, he’s potentially the most dominant tight end in NFL history.
1 Retire: Adam Vinatieri
Adam Vinatieri might be having the worst season of his career. He’s hitting 76.2 percent of field goals and 76.9 percent of extra points. Unfortunately, Vinatieri is part of the kicker struggles in the NFL. It’s hard to believe the Colts would bring him back for another season, and it’s not worth Vinatieri embarrassing himself again.