Average Retirement Age For NFL Football Players By Position

average retirement age for nfl football players by position

It’s no question that football is an extremely physical sport. Players sacrifice their bodies to entertain millions of fans. Amid fame and glory, many fail to think about the importance of retirement. Of the major sports leagues in the United States, the NFL has the shortest career longevity for athletes out of any other sport.

The average retirement age of a football player is approximately 27 years old. Unfortunately, most of the time players don’t have the luxury of retiring, but are forced out of the game due to concussions, tendon and ligament injuries, health concerns, and skill level.

There are of course exceptions when it comes to longevity (Tom Brady), but for the most part, the average age of active NFL players hovers around 26. Players have to wait until they are 20 just to enter the NFL draft, which on average leaves most players with a good 5-6 years to play football. These are just averages and some players play more and some players play less.

The average retirement age for NFL players will also vary by their position. In this article, we will explore the average retirement age of NFL Football players by their respective position. Let’s check it out.


  • The average NFL career length is approximately 3.3 years
  • In 2020, the average NFL player earned approximately $2.8 million per year
  • The NFL minimum salary per year is up to $660,000 in the 2021 season.

The Average NFL Career Length By Position

The average career length in the NFL is approximately 3.3 years.

That is an extremely short period of time to play a professional sport, let alone plan for retirement. Most players make well into the multiple millions, but fail to understand that they have an extremely short career potential according to the averages.

As you can see, kickers tend to have the longest career length on average at nearly 5 years, while running backs have the shortest career length at about 2.5 years.

[1] These statistics include all NFL players, some of which may never even start a game and some who play over a decade, and if you’re Tom Brady, two decades. As you can see from the data, the average NFL career is not long. As such, it’s important to become educated on your retirement options if you happen to play in the NFL.

What Retirement Plans Do NFL Players Have?

Despite players making millions of dollars in the NFL, many go broke quickly after their careers end. The NFL provides different retirement plans[2] for players that give them flexibility for setting up a comfortable retirement early on in their careers. These include:

  • 401(k) -The NFL Player Second Career Savings Plan
  • Severance plan
  • NFL’s annuity plan
  • Health Reimbursement Account – up to $350,000
  • Pension Plan

These are great options for players, but given the average career length of 3.3 years, players don’t have enough time to financially prep for retirement. As a result, most players tend to get other jobs in the field after their professional career is over.

Average NFL Player Earnings

In 2020, the average NFL player earned $2.8 million per year. This is just their NFL salaries. Most players have endorsements and other businesses that allow them to earn more on top of their yearly salaries.

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With such high earnings, players can easily max out their 401(k) contributions and star their retirement plans on the right track.

The NFL’s Minimum Player Salary

On top of the massive average earnings of over $2.8 million per year, NFL players have a minimum salary up to $660,000 in the 2021 season.

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Even if you’re a player that doesn’t play a single game, you will still be paid well over half a million per season. As long as you’re active and on the team’s roster, this is your minimum salary.

Making Sense of the Numbers

As we found, the average NFL career length is roughly 3.3 years and the average yearly NFL player salary is approximately $2.8 million per year. Going by the average and not taking the extremes into account, an NFL player can expect average career salary earnings of approximately $9,240,000. Just a little shy of $10 million.

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These numbers are purely salary and don’t take into account any bonuses or sports endorsements. As you can see, NFL players can put aside a decent amount of money into retirement in a short period of time. But the sad reality is that over 70% of retired NFL players go broke within the first three years out of the league. Don’t be another statistic and plan your retirement early and adequately.


What Age do NFL Players Get Their Pension?

Fully vested players are eligible to receive pension benefits once they turn 55. There are eligibility requirements to qualify for a pension and they are subject to change.

Do Retired NFL Players Get Insurance?

Former NFL players ages 50-75 are eligibly to receive Long Term Care Insurance fully paid for the NFL owners.

Who Was The Youngest NFL Player To Retire?

The youngest NFL player to retire was Amobi Okoye. He was also the youngest player to get drafted in the NFL at age 18. He was forced to retire at the age of 24 due to an undisclosed medical issue.

Article Sources

[1]Average Player Career Length In the NFL – https://www.statista.com/statistics/240102/average-player-career-length-in-the-national-football-league/

[2] The Pension Problem – https://pensionparity.com/the-pension-problem/#:~:text=Current%20retirees%20have%20the%20NFL’s,ever%2Dincreasing%20salaries%20that%20currently