5 Aging NFL Veterans Who Will Take a Huge Step Back in 2013
The 2013 NFL season is creeping closer, but there is still plenty of time left for those trying to hang on to their primes to start showing their age.
There's a reason Father Time is undefeated. Eventually, players succumb to the inevitability of age, and their play declines.
Some players who were a late scratch for the "honor" of being included on this list were Terrell Suggs, Julius Peppers and Maurice Jones-Drew. They seemed more likely candidates to keep it going over the guys selected.
Being mentioned here isn't a death sentence. These players won't become totally worthless overnight; they’ll just see a decline in their effectiveness.
It’s impossible to play at the same level forever. Click through to see who this year's candidates are for aging players who will take a step back.
Frank Gore had a bounce-back season in 2012. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and scored eight rushing touchdowns.
That's certainly a good year for any back not named Adrian Peterson. But just a few weeks ago saw Gore hit another milestone: 30. As in, years old.
The shelf life for running backs is the equivalent to that of a mayfly, so making it to 30 is a big deal. Need an example? Michael Turner's per-carry average dropped almost an entire yard once he hit that dreaded number.
Plus, Gore has carried the ball 1,911 times in his career. That's a lot of wear and tear on the old man.
Luckily for him, he won't be asked to carry the offense as he has in the past. He should fit in nicely with LaMichael James (a couple of nice runs in the playoffs) and Kendall Hunter.
Much like Gore, Champ Bailey had a nice resurgence in 2012. However, the last time we saw him on the field was more representative of what we'll see from him this season.
Torrey Smith tore him apart for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the divisional round. Anquan Boldin added another 30 yards against Bailey, as he allowed five of the seven passes thrown at him to be completed.
Bailey will be 35 when the season kicks off. Most players that age transition to safety or already have, a la Charles Woodson (35) and Rod Woodson (34). Bailey has already vetoed that idea, making him vulnerable to more experiences like the one he endured during last year's playoffs.
Out of all of the candidates on this list, Lance Briggs would be voted most likely to shove it in my face.
He had a nice 2012, only putting up two fewer tackles than he did the year prior. However, he had 12 fewer solo tackles than 2011, which is indicative of not getting to the ball-carrier as quickly or not being able to take him down before help arrived.
Additionally, things change quickly for linebackers. It's a position completely predicated on dishing out punishment. All of that pain Briggs inflicts also has a negative effect on his body.
Ask Brian Urlacher. He had 102 tackles in 2011, but 12 fewer solo tackles than the year prior. One year later, he's retired.
I've been taking the Houston Texans to task all offseason for this signing, and I'm not backing down now.
Ed Reed will turn 35 just after the season kicks off. That's scary because Reed has now played 160 games in his career.
He didn't play those games in a smooth style, either. He's a bruising safety with a flair for the big play, regardless of the cost to his body.
Playing with J.J. Watt will help, because quarterbacks won't have much time to get the ball off. However, the miles on a safety seemingly always battling some sort of ailment are too much to ignore.
Chris Snee has been a stalwart guard for the New York Giants, but his play has been erratic the past two years.
Snee is most likely heading the route of Steve Hutchinson, who ended up retiring once he turned 35. Yet the decline started a couple of years before that.
It isn't impossible for Snee, who is 31, to keep up the blistering pace of 2012, but it's more likely that he'll decline until letting the game go in a few years.