Multiple Bears Starters Urged to Retire at End of Season

Jason Peters

Getty Jason Peters has started all nine games for the Chicago Bears this season.

The Chicago Bears had the oldest roster in the NFL at the start of the regular season, with numerous aging starters on both sides of the ball.

With an average age of 27.0 years old, the Bears roster is full of seasoned veterans — but the goal for the team moving forward should be to build around rookie quarterback Justin Fields, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get younger all-around when doing so.

One analyst thinks Chicago might get younger via retirement — at least, that’s what he thinks should happen. In his November 15 column, Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report listed several former All-Pro players who “should contemplate retirement” after the 2021 season ends, and the Bears were the only team with two players on the list.

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Jimmy Graham Looks Like He’s Done

Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham is in his 12th season, and he turns 35 years old at the end of November. His 2021 campaign has been easily the worst of his career, as he has just two catches for 39 yards on six targets. He has started three games and played in seven this season after playing in all 16 last year. This decline in production and playing time is startling, which is largely why Moton thinks it’s time for Graham to hang it up when the season concludes. That, and second-year TE Cole Kmet.

“This year, Graham has played 30 percent of the snaps, and he’s a non-factor in the passing game,” Moton reasoned. “Graham’s contract will void at the end of the 2021 term, and the Bears have no reason to re-sign him with the recent emergence of Kmet, who recorded a career-high 87 receiving yards in Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

While Graham led the team in touchdown receptions last season with eight, he hasn’t been anywhere near the red zone threat he once was. He also admitted he had contemplated retirement this offseason, so it’s looking like his days in the NFL could be numbered.

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Jason Peters, On the Other Hand, Has Been Bears’ Best O-Lineman This Season

Moton also thinks Bears’ veteran o-lineman Jason Peters should call it quits after the season. Here’s why:

As an offensive tackle, Jason Peters isn’t aging gracefully like fellow 39-year-old Andrew Whitworth, who’s still a reliable pass-blocker for the Los Angeles Rams. While Whitworth has allowed one sack through 498 offensive snaps, Peters has surrendered four sacks through 522 offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. … Peters’ pass-protection issues show he’s no longer a solid starter in the league. Once Jenkins returns, he’ll likely take over the first-string job at left tackle while fellow rookie Larry Borom lines up on the right side. Peters isn’t in the Bears’ long-term plans, and he’s clearly on a sharp decline. The 18th-year pro isn’t equipped to handle athletic edge-rushers and doesn’t have enough experience at guard to transition inside seamlessly.

Also good points from Moton, but the harsh reality for the Bears is that Peters has been more serviceable than many initially felt he would be — and has arguably been their best offensive lineman all season. He has started all nine games so far, and his 76.8 overall grade from PFF ranks 20th amongst all tackles. His 74.7 run block grade ranks 16th.

Considering Chicago signed him off the street weeks before the start of the regular season, his retirement wouldn’t be a surprise at all, but he has also been better than people thought. If he stays healthy — and that’s a big if — there may be other teams interested in signing him should he still want to play next year. Crazier things have happened.

With Bears rookie tackle Teven Jenkins returning to practice on November 15, however, Peters will likely be a goner after this season, with retirement a definite possibility.

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