Ed Reed and 4 Other NFL Players That Could Be Playing Their Final Season in 2012
For several years now Reed has been very vocal about his now-annual struggle over whether he should continue playing football. But despite all the talk of retirement, Reed not only continues to play for the Ravens, but he continues to play at an All-Pro level.
Reed is not the only veteran mulling retirement this season.
Already, three potential Hall of Famers have announced their retirement this offseason—Brian Dawkins, Jason Taylor and Hines Ward all decided to call it quits. Players like LaDainian Tomlinson and Derrick Mason will likely join them soon.
It's basically the end of an era in the NFL, with so many good players in the twilight of their careers. Some of these veterans are only playing for the hope of a Super Bowl ring; others still fight off time and injuries to play at an elite level. Regardless of the circumstances, these NFL careers are nearing the end.
Along with Reed, here are some players that could be preparing for their final NFL season in 2012.
Terence Newman, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
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Although he has played for them his entire career, Terence Newman is a Dallas Cowboy no more.
Back in March the Cowboys cut the aging cornerback, essentially designating him as the scapegoat for the team's defensive struggles down the stretch that resulted in the team missing the playoffs.
Newman has definitely lost a step. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Cowboys regular season finale.
The eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants made Newman's final game as a Cowboy an embarrassing one. This included two separate plays where tight ends jumped over Newman and also a play where Newman was burnt by Victor Cruz for a 74-yard touchdown.
Newman's days as a starting cornerback seem to be over.
If Leon Hall can recover from his Achilles injury, he and Nate Clements should have the starting jobs in Cincinnati. First-round draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones will also be looking to contribute.
Newman has to know that he was lucky to even get signed by a team. With his numbers clearly regressing over the years, he should retire before they get even more embarrassing.
Keith Brooking, LB, Dallas Cowboys
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Although Keith Brooking is a Dallas Cowboy now, he will always be remembered more for the 10 years he spent as the heart and soul of the Atlanta Falcons defense.
In 2009 he was picked up with the hope that he could provide some veteran leadership for the Cowboys defense.
The last two seasons have been rough for Brooking in Dallas, though.
Brooking's first season with Dallas was his only really good one as he finished with 106 tackles and helped the Cowboys win their first playoff game since 1996. In the two seasons since, Brooking failed to reach 100 tackles, and the Cowboys did not make the playoffs.
Now at 36 years old, Brooking is extremely expendable to the Cowboys. Sean Lee has emerged as a potential defensive superstar, and the Cowboys would be foolish to start a washed-up Brooking over him.
Brooking is currently an unrestricted free agent, and so far he has not attracted attention from any other team. Perhaps Brooking can take on one more season as a Cowboy backup and make one final push for a Super Bowl ring.
Kevin Curtis, WR, Free Agent
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I was surprised to see that Kevin Curtis is even still playing in the NFL.
Back in 2007, Curtis looked like he could be on track for a special career. He finished that season with 77 receptions for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns for Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, it's been all downhill since then.
Injuries have decimated his career and pushed him down the depth chart. After the Philadelphia Eagles released him in 2010, Curtis has played on three teams over the last two seasons without making an impact on any of them.
The list of injuries that Curtis has had to deal with is staggering.
He's had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, a fractured left hand and even a bout with testicular cancer. Most recently a member of the Tennessee Titans, Curtis' hand injury landed him on the IR before the season even began.
Now a free agent, I can't imagine that many teams are going to be interested in signing Curtis.
There would certainly be no shame if he retires before this season begins. However, I think he'll give it one more year just in case he can sign with a contender and get a Super Bowl ring.
Yeremiah Bell, SS, Free Agent
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With all the violence surrounding football, players age incredibly fast.
This is especially true with defensive backs who are subject to extremely brutal hits. This is why I think that veteran safety Yeremiah Bell is coming up on the end of his career, even though he is only 35 years old and has played only eight seasons in the NFL.
All eight of these seasons were with the Miami Dolphins. Bell provided veteran leadership for a Dolphins defense that was a lot better than most people gave it credit for.
In 2008 and 2009 Bell led the team in tackles, while he made his only Pro Bowl appearance in 2009.
The Dolphins ultimately made the move to cut Bell in an attempt to save salary cap space and get younger on defense. Bell has now signed a one-year deal with the division rival New York Jets, and it's very much unknown what will happen next.
This could be his last season; Bell could be the type of player that has a lot of trouble finding a team the next time he gets cut.
Ed Reed, FS, Baltimore Ravens
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Ed Reed has now backpedaled on his initial talks of retirement, meaning that he should be back for at least one more season.
Of course, he could change his mind and release more perplexing quotes to the media, but by now Raven fans know to expect that from Reed.
The important thing to realize is that despite his threats, Reed has never actually retired from the game. You can tell that he still loves playing and that he really wants a Super Bowl ring.
This year is a big one for him as the Baltimore Ravens figure to be one of those teams that are in serious Super Bowl contention.
It's also the final year of Reed's contract with the Ravens. Even though Reed is a surefire Hall of Famer, he might not get the big contract that he's hoping for from Baltimore. This could result in a Brian Dawkins-type scenario where Reed spends his final days in the NFL looking tremendously out of place playing for a different team.
Or this could finally be the year Reed hangs up his cleats.
That would be significantly easier should the Ravens win the Super Bowl. Either way, Reed's time with the Ravens and in the NFL is likely close to being done.