10 Oldest Active NFL Players

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Playing in the NFL is not something that many people will do for a long time. Understandably so, the physical and mental tolls that it can take on the human body are enormous. This is the main reason that NFL players are so respected and looked up to as modern-day gladiators. According to the WSJ, the average career of an NFL player is only 2.66 years, a number which is seemingly declining.

Perhaps the players get physically drained after a short career, maybe they make enough money to support themselves for life, or possibly the recent advancements in CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) have spurred NFL players to retire early and save some the best years of their lives for their family. In any case, it is always inspiring to see our heroes show up on Sunday Night Football padded up and ready to rumble for years on end.

It is probably hard for the average fan to understand how much dedication goes into the players’ daily lives who stay in the NFL for longer than the average career. Here are the oldest football players that are currently active as of January 2019 (the 2018 NFL season).

10. Eli Manning (January 3, 1981 – Present)

Age: 38 Years
Current Team: New York Giants
Position: Quarterback
 Years Active: 15 years (2004 – Present)

Eli Manningimage credit: Flickr via Mike Morbeck

Eli Manning may be the younger brother of football legend Peyton Manning, but Eli Manning has also had a notable NFL career. The younger Manning has been the quarterback of the New York Giants since 2004 and has led his team to two Super Bowl wins. Manning was also the MVP of both of those Super Bowls.

Manning holds many Giants franchise records, including the most victories by any quarterback during the regular season (111).  Manning’s career totals of 7,396 attempts, 4,424 completions, 51,682 yards, 339 touchdowns, and 228 interceptions are all also Giants franchise records. Additionally, Manning has started in 210 consecutive regular season games, the third-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history – only Brett Favre and his brother Peyton Manning have started in more consecutive games.

Did You Know?

Eli Manning has achieved the following:

  • Most 4th quarter touchdown passes in a season (15 in 2011)
  • Tied NFL Record longest pass completion and touchdown (99 yards in 2011)
  • Most road wins in a single regular season and postseason by a starting quarterback (10)

9. Julius Peppers (January 18, 1980 – Present)

Age: 39 Years
Team: Carolina Panthers
Position: Defensive End
 Years Active: 17 Years (2002 – Present)

Julius Pepper

image credit: Flickr via Kyle Tsui

Julius Peppers started his NFL career with a bang and has showed no signs of slowing down although he is approaching his 40s. After being unanimously being recognized as an All-American, Peppers was the second pick in the 2002 NFL draft. Peppers is currently back with the Carolina Panthers, who first signed him in 2002. After leaving the Panthers in 2009, Peppers played for the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers – he re-joined the Panthers in 2017.

Peppers holds several Panthers records, including the most sacks (92), the most forced fumbles (31), and the most blocked field goals (8). In addition to his franchise records with the Panthers, Peppers holds various NFL records, including the second most career forced fumbles (49) and the second most career interceptions for a defensive end (11).

Did You Know?

Julius Peppers has achieved the following:

  • Ranks fourth in NFL history with 154.5 career sacks – the most of any active NFL player
  • Only player with at least 150 sacks and 10 or more interceptions
  • Has 20 career opponent fumble recoveries, the most among active players

8. Josh McCown (July 4, 1979 – Present) 

Age: 39 Years
Team: New York Jets
Position: Quarterback
 Years Active: 17 Years (2002 – Present)

Josh McCownimage credit: Wikimedia Commons via Keith Allison

Josh McCown has been in the NFL for 17 years and has bounced around various teams since he started his career in 2002. As of the 2018 season, McCown is the quarterback for the New York Jets and in the past he has played for the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, the Cleveland Browns, and a few other teams.

McCown comes from a family of football players; his younger brother Luke McCown was in the NFL for 13 years. The McCowns have another brother, Randy, who played football for Texas A&M.

Did You Know?

Josh McCown has achieved the following:

  • Has 17,707 passing yards
  • Has a passing percentage of 60.2%
  • Has a passer rating of 79.7

7. Drew Brees (January 15, 1979 – Present) 

Age: 40 Years
Team: New Orleans Saints
 Years Active: 18 Years (2001 – Present)

Drew Breesimage credit: Flickr via Kieth Allison

Drew Brees became a breakout NFL star back when he won the 2009 Super Bowl. With well over 20 noteworthy awards and/or NFL records, Brees is one of the most decorated NFL players ever. Brees holds the records for career pass completions, career completion percentage, career passing yards, and is second in career touchdown passes.

Before starting his professional career, Brees played football at Purdue University, where he was also one of the most decorated players in Purdue and Big Ten Conference history, establishing two NCAA records, 13 Big Ten Conference records, and 19 Purdue University records.

Did You Know?

Drew Brees has achieved the following:

  • Has passed for over 5,000 yards in a season five times (the most of any QB in NFL history)
  • 10 Pro Bowl selections
  • One of eight QBs with seven touchdown passes in a single game (7)

6. John Denney (December 13, 1978 – Present) 

Age: 40 Years
Team: Miami Dolphins
Position: Long Snapper
 Years Active: 14 Years (2005 – Present)

John Denneyimage credit: Wikimedia Commons via Jeffrey Beall

John Denney recently turned 40 years old and entered his 14th year with the NFL. Denney has spent his whole professional career with the Miami Dolphins. As a long snapper, Denney is part of the special teams roster and does not necessarily see much action each game.

Denney does have 45 special teams tackles, 36 of which were solo tackles. He also has one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. As the Miami Dolphins long snapper, Denney makes about $1 million a year, not bad for a player who spends most of his time on the sidelines.

Did You Know?

John Denny has achieved the following:

  • Played in 213 games
  • Has not missed a single game in his entire NFL career
  • Holds Dolphins record for most consecutive regular season games played

5. Sebastian Janikowski (March 2, 1978 – Present) 

Age: 40 Years
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Position: Placekicker
 Years Active: 19 Years (2000 – Present)

Sebastian Janikowskiimage credit: Wikimedia Commons via Jeffrey Beall

Hailing from Poland (and nicknamed “the Polish Cannon”), Sebastian Janikowski is one of the most feared kickers in the NFL. Since Janikowski is capable of consistently kicking 50+ yard field goals, the defenses of opposing teams have to work extra hard to keep points off of the board.

Janikowski is currently playing for the Seattle Seahawks, but spent most of his career with the Oakland Raiders. He holds the record for the most games played with the Raiders; Janikowski ended the 2017 season, his last with the Raiders, with 268 games played for the team.

Did You Know?

Sebastian Janikowski has achieved the following:

  • Tied with Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, and David Akers, for second longest field goal in NFL history (63 yards)
  • Holds record for most 50+ yard field goals (58)
  • Tied with Greg Zuelain for most field goals of 60+ yards (2)

Tied with Justin Tucker for most field goals of 50+ yards in a single game (3)

4. Tom Brady (August 3, 1977 – Present) 

Age: 41 Years
Team: New England Patriots
Position: Quarterback
 Years Active: 19 Years (2000 – Present)

Tom Bradyimage credit: Flickr via Kieth Allison

Tom Brady is considered to be on the greatest quarterbacks ever in NFL history and has spent his entire professional career with the New England Patriots. The Patriots drafted Brady in 2000 as the team’s backup quarterback. The following season, Brady was promoted to starting quarterback, a position he has held ever since.

Brady is a highly respected player and has been elected as captain by his teammates every year since 2002. As such a prolific and exceptional player, Brady has set many records, including having 203  regular season wins. Brady is also the first quarterback ever to lead his team to five Super Bowl wins.

Did You Know?

Tom Brady has achieved the following:

  • 7 Super Bowl Appearances (more than any QB ever)
  • Holds record for most Super Bowl MVP awards (4)
  • Oldest player in NFL history to win NFL Most Valuable Player Award in 2017 (at age 40)

3. Matt Bryant (May 29, 1975 – Present) 

Age: 43 Years
Team: Atlanta Falcons
Position: Placekicker
 Years Active: 17 Years (2002 – Present)

Matt Bryantimage credit: Wikimedia Commons via Thomson200

Matt Bryant may not be as well known as some of the other players on this list, but he has had a solid career as a kicker, especially with the Atlanta Falcons, who Bryant has been with since 2009. Bryant currently has one of the highest field goal percentages in NFL history at 86.2%.

During his 17-year long career, Bryant has had four career games with two 50+ yard kicks. Bryant is the fourth player in NFL history to to hit two 50+ yard field goals in a playoff game.

Did You Know?

Matt Bryant has achieved the following:

  • Has earned over 1029 points during his Atlanta Falcons career so far
  • Named to his first career Pro Bowl in 2016
  • Has earned NFC Player of the Week honors seven times

2. Phil Dawson (January 23, 1975 – Present) 

Age: 44 Years
Team: Arizona Cardinals
Position: Placekicker
 Years Active: 20 Years (1999 – Present)

Phil Dawsonimage credit: Wikimedia Commons via Erik Drost

Phil Dawson returned for the 2018 NFL Season as a placekicker for the Arizona Cardinals at 43 years of age. Dawson has been in the NFL for over 20 years and is one of the most consistent kickers in the league’s history. Only two other kickers, Matt Bryant and Adam Vinatieri, have a better career FG (field goal) percentage than Dawson, which is currently at about 84.2 percent (436 of 518). Dawson also has a 98% PAT percentage, which was skewed by being blocked 5 times in his career.

Although Dawson is still considered active right now, he was placed on injured reserve in late November 2018 following a hip injury. As of right now, there has been no update on Dawson’s condition and he isn’t guaranteed to continue his NFL career in the 2019 season.

Did You Know?

Phil Dawson has achieved the following:

  • Browns record for most consecutive field goals made (29)
  • Has over 400 career field goals
  • Has thrown one career pass, which earned him a 100% career completion percentage

1. Adam Vinatieri (December 28, 1972 – Present) 

Age: 46 Years
Team: Indianapolis Colts
Position: Placekicker
 Years Active: 23 Years (1996 – Present)

Adam Vinatieriimage credit: Flickr via Jeffrey Beall

Adam Vinatieri is currently the oldest active player in the NFL at 46 years old. Vinatieri is known for kicking long distances as well as kicking consistently. Although his longest career field goal is only 57 yards (7 yards short of the record), he has put up an impressive 2,378 points in his career.

Although he is just a few years shy from turning 50, Vinatieri shows no signs of slowing down. Vinatieri was re-signed to the Indianapolis Colts right before the 2018 season, which marks his 23rd season in the NFL. Of all the current active players, Vinatieri has the greatest chance to surpass George Blanda (26 seasons) and hold the record for longest NFL career in history.

Did You Know?

Adam Vinatieri has achieved the following:

  • 4 Super Bowl rings
  • 3 Pro Bowl Selections and 3 First Team All Pro Selections
  • NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

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There are 3 comments

    1. Shane Lechler was cut right before the start of the 2018 season, which means he is technically not active even though he hasn’t officially retired. He’s currently a free agent.


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