5 Aging NFL Stars Who Will Lose Their Starting Jobs in 2013
They say that the NFL is a young man's game, one that retires more players than has players retire from it.
Father Time, who continues to have a "0" in the loss column, should again have its target on a number of players during the upcoming offseason.
Despite being productive, Pro Bowl players in the past, time eventually catches up to even the greatest players.
In the following slides, we'll give you five aging stars who could find themselves without the starting job they currently posses in 2013.
RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Jackson is a mere 10 yards from going over 1,000 rushing yards for the eighth straight season, but he's likely to be a free agent this spring because of a $7 million voidable option in 2013.
The Rams will have a difficult choice this offseason: pay Jackson millions over a longer-term deal, or let their franchise leader in rushing yards walk while starting over with younger players at the position.
Jackson, who turns 30 in July, is quickly approaching 3,000 career touches, so the Rams might be better served by rolling the dice with Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson and a 2013 draft pick. Veteran backs like Jackson—especially ones with as many miles as he does—can see their skill set regress faster than any other position.
S Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers
Woodson, who at age 34 was moved to safety before 2012, broke his collarbone in Week 7 and hasn't played since.
While you'd think that a secondary that gave up the most passing yards in NFL history a season ago would implode without Woodson for 11 games, the opposite has actually been the case.
Thanks to youngsters such as Casey Hayward, Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings, the Packers have thrived against the pass without Woodson around. Hayward has become one of the front-runners for defensive rookie of the year while playing like a veteran in the slot, and both McMillian and Jennings have made big strides alongside fellow safety Morgan Burnett.
Woodson is owed $10 million over the course of the 2013 season, so the Packers likely wouldn't bench the veteran. But if general manager Ted Thompson feels comfortable with his secondary, the writing could be on the wall for Woodson's potential release next summer.
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Detroit Lions
A 12-year veteran with 58 sacks, Kyle Vanden Bosch might be nearing the end of a productive career.
Despite being under contract through 2013, Vanden Bosch is owed over $5 million next season and simply does not make an impact worthy of that kind of money. In fact, he's probably hurting the Lions defense more than helping it.
According to Pro Football Focus, Vanden Bosch has graded out as the worst 4-3 defensive end this season—and by a wide margin. His 622 defensive snaps have produced little in terms of pass rush (25 quarterback disruptions) or playing the run (-16.3 grade).
The Lions would be better off sitting or cutting Vanden Bosch, re-signing Cliff Avril and then playing a combination of Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young opposite Avril in 2013.
LB Calvin Pace, New York Jets
Once an important pass-rushing cog for the Jets defense, Pace is now nothing more than an old, below-average starter for a defense that needs to get younger.
While Pace registered 20.5 sacks in his first three seasons in New York, he has just 7.5 over the last two. The regression in sack numbers has coincided with a general lack of production from Pace, despite starting every game this season.
According to PFF, Pace has graded out as the second-worst 3-4 outside linebacker in 2012. His worst grade has come rushing the passer, where his efficiency in doing so is among the league's worst.
The Jets got productive years out of Pace early on, but it's time to move on and find a new answer at outside linebacker in 2013.
DE Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts
Miscast and beset with injuries, Dwight Freeney has transformed from one of the NFL's best pass-rushers into a player that needs to leave Indianapolis in 2013.
The Colts' switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 was always going to be a difficult one for Freeney, and he's mostly struggled with the transition. Any chances for the former Pro Bowler to make an impact in the new defensive front have been mostly negated by nagging ankle injuries.
More than likely, Freeney will take his 106.5 career sacks to another NFL city in 2013. He's an unrestricted free agent whose starting spot will likely be filled by the Colts during the 2013 NFL draft.