10 Aging NFL Veterans Who Should Retire Before 2013 Season

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2013 NFL Season: 10 Veterans Who Should Retire

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Athletes are a unique breed of “workers.” They enter the workforce around the same age as most -- 18-to-24 -- but their retirement age is a lot younger. NFL players generally are drafted after their junior year of college, making them around 21 at that time, and playing 15-plus years depending on who you are is not uncommon in the NFL, but knowing when it’s time to hang 'em up is always the hardest part.

Athletes know they have a short shelf life, which is why you constantly see players well beyond their prime. Once they hit age 30, most NFL players are either in their prime or just coming out of it, unless they peaked late in their career. The ones who peaked late are the players we see playing till age 40, like Kurt Warner.

Even the players who peak later still have the tendency to hold on to the only thing they’ve known for the past 20 years, much like Warner. We’ve seen a handful of players in the past couple years who have realized they were better off retiring than continuing their chase: Brett Favre, Chad Johnson, Albert Haynesworth, Donald Driver and Ronde Barber are just a few who come to mind.

But what about those who are still playing? Are there any guys who should have called it a career after last season? Should any of them still shut it down before the beginning of this season? Here are the 10 NFL veterans who should retire before the real season begins.

Mathew Muncy is an Indiana Pacers writer for Follow him on Twitter @MMuncy, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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Tony Gonzalez

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Tony Gonzalez has flirted with retirement the past two offseasons and has been talked out of it both times. Gonzalez had a solid 2012 season and could have went out on top, but he is still missing that championship ring. He will be an asset to the Atlanta Falcons this year, but he should have hung 'em up at 97 percent instead of letting the three percent talk him into coming back.

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Charles Woodson

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Charles Woodson turns 37 in October and his game has been slipping the past couple seasons. That doesn't mean he can't have a great season with the Oakland Raiders, but playing for a bottom-dwelling team, past your prime, is pointless. Woodson needs to realize the only thing the Raiders can do for him is hurt him, physically and reputably. No need for one last go-around; time to hang 'em up.

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Ed Reed

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Ed Reed should have went out on top of the world like Ray Lewis did after they won the NFL Championship with the Baltimore Ravens last year. Reed is only 34, but his body is starting to break down. He signed with the Houston Texans in the offseason and is already on the PUP list thanks to a bad hip. It's time to hang 'em up.

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Jason Babin

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Jason Babin has become somewhat of a journeyman in the NFL. After being drafted in 2004 by the Houston Texans, he's held stints with four other teams. He now plays for the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and the injury bug has struck him once again. Babin has had one great season in his career and is still trying to prove himself in the league, but with the injuries starting to mount, he would be wise to hang 'em up and prevent future health issues.

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Andre Gurode

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Andre Gurode is 35 and still trying to mount a comeback after being released by the Dallas Cowboys in 2010. In his eight seasons with the Cowboys, he made the Pro Bowl five times, but since then he has failed to stay with a team for longer than one season. He is now with the Oakland Raiders, but they are going nowhere. Gurode is a player who is holding onto a dream for too long. He needs to hang 'em up three years too late.

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Shaun Rogers

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Shaun Rogers has had a solid 10-plus-year career which includes three Pro-Bowl appearances. But since his release from the Cleveland Browns in 2010, he's had trouble staying healthy and finding a long-term placement. The New York Giants signed him last season, but a blood clot in Rogers' left calf sidelined him the entire season. The Giants re-signed Rogers for 2013 and hopes he makes the impact he used too. It's always sad to see guys become journeymen at the end of their career as they try to chase their elusive championship. You just have to know when to hang 'em up and Rogers has met his time.

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Plaxico Burress

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Plaxico Burress has had a unique NFL career. From catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII to doing a two-year stint in prison and then going back to the NFL in hopes of returning to his glory days. He was solid in his return with the New York Jets in 2011 -- 45 receptions and eight touchdowns -- but last year, he failed to capitalize on his return to the Pittsburgh Steelers as he finished the year with only three receptions. Burress torn his rotator cuff at the beginning of training camp in August and is now out for the entire 2013-14 season. I think it's time for Burress to hang 'em up.

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Dallas Clark

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Dallas Clark will forever be known for the nine years he spent with the Indianapolis Colts as one of Peyton Manning's favorite receivers. Clark and Manning were one of the all-time best quarterback-tight end combos in the NFL. The Colts cut Clark in their cost saving/rebuilding process after they released Manning in 2011. Clark went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now the Baltimore Ravens. He's got his championship ring, what's he still playing for? Only he really knows, but it's time he hangs 'em up.

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Byron Leftwich

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Byron Leftwich was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars and stuck around for four seasons before they switched to veteran David Garrard for good. Leftwich was cut in 2007 and has since become an NFL quarterback journeyman. He found a home in Pittsburgh for the last three seasons backing up Ben Roethlesberger. He got his championship ring in 2008 during his first stint with the Steelers, but has been plagued with season-ending injuries the past two seasons. That led the Steelers to not resign him for the 2013 campaign and turn to drafting a younger backup. Leftwich's career has come to pass and it's time he hangs 'em up.

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Billy Cundiff

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Billy Cundiff is on his 11th team in 10 years. If that doesn't say hang 'em up, then I don't know what does. His history of missing crunch-time kicks has led to his dismissal from most teams. He is now with the New York Jets where he will try to beat out Nick Folk, but I wouldn't bet on it. Sorry Billy, but it's time to hang 'em up.