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The Best NFL Players Who Retired In 2021

Updated June 14, 2021 5.9k votes 491 voters 7.6k views33 items

List RulesVote up the retired NFL players based on their overall careers.

All the NFL players who retire in 2021 will leave a legacy that lives on. The average career length for NFL players is 3.3 years, according to the NFL Players Association. Many of the players who will appear on this list will have played much longer than the average. In this time, they have played through countless injuries and made an impact on the game. Look to this list regularly to see the best NFL players who retired in 2021, either because it was their time or because injuries cut a promising career short.

The first player to choose retirement in 2021 was Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub, who played with four different teams over the course of his sixteen-year career but made the biggest impact in Houston, where he led the league in passing and made it to two Pro Bowls.

Such short careers ensure prominent players retire from the NFL every year. Look to this list for a running record of football players retiring in 2021. Almost all of the 32 NFL teams say their goodbyes to a veteran or two each year. Vote up the recently retired NFL players who had the most impact on the game during their careers, then check back throughout the year to see who else retires.

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  • Photo: Brook Ward / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Announced retirement on March 14, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    Super Bowl champion (XLIV)
    Super Bowl MVP (XLIV)
    2× NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2011)
    First-team All-Pro (2006)
    4× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2009, 2011, 2018)
    13× Pro Bowl (2004, 2006, 2008–2014, 2016–2019)
    7× NFL passing yards leader (2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014–2016)
    4× NFL passing touchdowns leader (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012)
    2× NFL passer rating leader (2009, 2018)
    6× NFL completion percentage leader (2009–2011, 2017–2019)

    NFL Records:
    Most career passing yards
    Most career pass completions
    Highest single-season completion percentage (74.4%)
    Most consecutive games with a touchdown pass
    Most pass completions in a season
    Most 5,000 passing yard seasons
    Highest completion percentage in a game (96.7%)
    Most touchdown passes in a game (tied)
    First player to reach 80,000 career passing yards (286 games)

    • Position: Quarterback
    • Team: New Orleans Saints (2006-2020), San Diego Chargers (2001-2005)
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    Great career?

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  • Announced retirement on January 27, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    11× Pro Bowler (2004–2010, 2012–2014, 2017)
    2× First-team All-Pro (2007, 2010)
    2× Second-team All-Pro (2008, 2012)
    Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2012)
    Bart Starr Award (2013)
    Most career NFL games by a Tight End (271 games)
    Top 20 NFL All Time Career Receiving Yards (13,046)
    Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2019)

    • Position: Tight end
    • Team: Dallas Cowboys (2003-2017, 2019), Las Vegas Raiders (2020)
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  • Photo: Nathan Rupert / via Flickr

    Announced retirement on January 20, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    8× Pro Bowler (2006, 2009–2011, 2013, 2016–2018)
    NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2013)
    NFL completion percentage leader (2013)
    NFL passing yards leader (2010)
    NFL passing touchdowns leader (2008)
    NFL passer rating leader (2008)

    • Position: Quarterback
    • Team: Los Angeles Chargers (2004-2019); Indianapolis Colts (2020)
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  • Announced retirement on February 12, 2021

    Career Achievements:
    3× First-team All-Pro (2011, 2012, 2014)
    2× Second-team All-Pro (2010, 2018)
    9× Pro Bowl (2010–2012, 2014, 2016–2020)
    PFWA All-Rookie Team (2010)
    NFL 2010s All-Decade Team

    • Position: Guard, Center
    • Team: Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-2020)
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