LaDainian Tomlinson and 5 NFL Players Who Could Be Playing Last Game in Week 17

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IDecember 30, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 11:  LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the New York Jets celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The New York Jets' Week 17 matchup with the Miami Dolphins has important playoff implications.

But it may also be the final time that LaDainian Tomlinson, one of the game's greatest running backs, plays in an NFL game.

According to Pro Football Talk, Tomlinson will consider his options after the season.

Yes, there is definitely a thought that this could be because you never know how things shake out. For me, it just depends on the situation. I’ve said that before. I would love to keep playing, but if the situation is not right, then I won’t. This possibly could be my last game.

If Sunday is, in fact, Tomlinson's last NFL game, he'll finish his career either No. 5 or 6 in rushing yards (13,628) in NFL history. Tomlinson needs just 35 to pass Jerome Bettis (13,662) for No. 5 on the list. He's also No. 3 in total touchdowns (162, behind Emmitt Smith, 175, and Jerry Rice, 208) and No. 2 in rushing touchdowns (145, behind Smith, 164). 

Tomlinson isn't the only player who could be playing his final game in Week 17. Here are some others who may end their career after 2011:

Jason Taylor, Dolphins

Taylor already announced on Wednesday that this will be his last game on Sunday. Taylor, the NFL's active sack leader with 139.5, has played 15 seasons. Thirteen of those 15 seasons were played in Miami, including a 2002 season that saw Taylor tally 18.5 sacks.

Jim Kleinsasser, Vikings

Kleinsasser has also announced that he's hanging up the cleats. After 13 seasons paving holes and playing special teams, Kleinsasser has more than earned his retirement. The Vikings finish the 2011 season on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

Nick Hardwick/Kris Dielman, Chargers

Both Chargers' offensive linemen have considered retiring after this season. Hardwick has talked about his future health as a reason to weigh the options, but he's only 30 and still playing well.

Dielman has dealt with concussions over the course of his career, and the latest this season was followed by a seizure on the plane ride home. He's been on IR since. The Chargers play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. 

Brian Dawkins, Broncos

There hasn't been much audible discussion about the possibility, but a recurring neck injury at age 38 could signal the end of Dawkins' career. One of the top safeties of this generation, Dawkins would be finishing off a 16-year NFL career. The Broncos take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Ronde Barber, Buccaneers

Barber has said on several occasions that he may retire if coach Raheem Morris is fired in Tampa Bay. Seeing as that possibility is definitely still in play, the 36-year-old Barber may be playing his final game on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Barber has 43 career interceptions in 15 seasons in Tampa Bay.