Every year, there are a few aging veterans who have finished the last year of their contract. This places franchises in tough situations because the player usually was an asset to the team for many years, but the player’s advanced age may now make them a risky investment.
This year, there are a few players who could flirt with retirement but could also still play productive roles for other teams.
RB Steven Jackson
When Marshall Faulk retired in 2006, he passed the torch to Steven Jackson, who hasn’t looked back.
The three-time Pro Bowler currently has 56 touchdowns and 10,135 rushing yards in his career, which makes him the leading rusher in franchise history (remember: Faulk began his career with the Colts).
Jackson will be 30 by the time the 2013 season kicks off, which is considered to be ancient for running backs in the NFL.
But he still has plenty left in him.
Last season, even with an average Rams squad, Jackson managed to rack up over 1,000 yards with an average of 4.1 yards per carry, which is only .1 less than his career average. Not to mention that Jackson avoiding fumbling even once last year.
His production is certainly slowing down, but there are many teams in the NFL who could use a reliable back like Jackson. The Green Bay Packers, for example, have struggled in the running game the past few years. They tried to bring in veteran Cedric Benson last year, but he has proven that he can’t be a No. 1 back on a Super Bowl-contending team.
Another contender that Jackson could potentially sign with is the New England Patriots. Yes, I know they have some exciting young running backs in Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead, but Bill Belicheck is not opposed to bringing in a hard-working veteran with the right attitude (look at Corey Dillon in 2004).
WR Anquan Boldin
Anyone who watched this year’s playoffs knows that Anquan Boldin can still be an effective wideout in this league.
Unfortunately, he has told NBC Sports that if the Ravens do not re-sign him, he will retire. Boldin is 32 years old, and he finally has a Super Bowl ring to cap off his phenomenal career, but we all know it doesn’t have to end there.
Although, there are a lot of younger receivers on the market, such as Mike Wallace or Dwayne Bowe, Boldin can still make an impact as a No. 2 receiver in 2013, while getting paid a comfortable amount.
If the Ravens release him, and he does decide to retire, he could still come out of retirement before the season starts once he begins to miss the game, and other teams start to inquire about him.
A good fit for Boldin would be teams with young superstar receivers, and the first two that come to mind are the Lions and the Bengals.
Think about how much he could help Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green both in maturity and in taking some coverage away on the field.
DE Osi Umenyiora
The 31-year-old defensive end finished the last season on his contract with the Giants. In his 10-year career (all with the Giants), Umenyiora has two Pro Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories, but it seems that he is moving on.
He recorded six sacks last season and was still a force on a solid defensive line that is good enough to part ways with him.
Umenyiora has at least two or three good years left in him, and there are plenty of teams out there with a dismal pass rush.
There are the obvious clubs like the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were last in the league with only 20 sacks last season, but there is also the Atlanta Falcons.
The No. 1 seed in the NFC was only 28th in the league with 29 sacks last year. With a team that has so many strengths, Umenyiora could be a cheap improvement to one of their weakest points.