During the course of the 2015 NFL season, many players have stood out due to the tremendous contributions they have made to their teams.
Although for this piece, we’d like to focus the spotlight on some standout NFL veterans who, at 30 years or older, are having a fabulous season thus far.
Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Whatever Fitzgerald’s fountain of youth contains, we would all like some of that, please.
Fitzgerald is having an amazing 2015 season and currently ranks as the No. 3 wide receiver in the NFL according to Pro Football Reference (subscription required). And, with seven touchdowns on the books, he has only one less than the NFL’s top touchdown scorer, Odell Beckham Jr.
Fitz has already well surpassed his 2015 stats in every category and has totaled 65 receptions for 836 yards and the seven scores. He is also averaging 92.9 yards per game, which is his second-highest total of his career. If Fitzgerald keeps up his pace, he is on target to finish the season with 1,486 yards, which would be a career high, and 12 touchdowns.
The Cardinals are off to a superb start this season, leading the NFC West with a record of 7-2, thanks in large part to all of the hard work Fitzgerald contributes to each game.
Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings
If anyone was skeptical as to whether Peterson would return donning rust after missing nearly an entire season, those worries are long out the door.
Peterson, who had the lofty goal of breaking records and rushing for 2,000-plus yards this season, is playing some amazing football at the age of 30. These highlights of Peterson making the Raiders defense look silly last Sunday when he recorded 203 rushing yards and a touchdown are proof in the making.
Causing all sorts of problems for the defense.
And that 80-yard TD run…
All. Day. Long. https://t.co/Os12LY3gVZ
— NFL (@NFL) November 16, 2015
Rushing at a speedy average of 4.9 yards per carry this season, Peterson is on course to finish 2015 with 1,708 rushing yards. This would be his second-highest career yardage if he was to remain on his current pace.
And, if Peterson was to put pedal to the medal and increase his average yards per game to 150 for the remainder of the season, he would indeed cross his coveted 2,000-rushing yard mark.
Charles Woodson, safety, Oakland Raiders
Woodson, an All-Pro 39-year old safety selected by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 1998 NFL draft, is still playing strong.
Having already surpassed last year’s four interceptions, Woodson has five on the books, including two off the hands of Peyton Manning, which had been a career goal of his for 18 years.
Can’t wait to see Charles Woodson intercept one of Peyton Manning’s kids in 2035.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) November 1, 2015
Those five interceptions add to his grand total of 65, which puts him behind only four former NFL players who have recorded more. Furthermore, Woodson’s five picks tie Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams for the most currently recorded by any NFL player this season. This is not too shabby for an “old” guy.
During the course of Woodson’s post-30 career, he also earned the AP Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009 at the age of 33 when playing for the Green Bay Packers.
Whenever Woodson decides to hang up his jersey and retire, he will do so with many proud accomplishments under his belt.
Carson Palmer, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
The Palmer/Fitzgerald combo this season has been outstanding so far.
In fact, they are making younger quarterback/receiver duos look quite inferior, to be honest. Palmer is currently the No. 1 rated quarterback according to Pro Football Reference. And, the vintage quarterback is showing no signs of slowness in returning from what was his second ACL tear he sustained last season.
Currently on pace to post career-high numbers in yardage and touchdowns, Palmer, at 35, now adds to the other quarterbacks who have indicated their desire to play past 40 years-of-age.
“I take it one week at a time,” Palmer said (via azcardinals.com). “I would love to play 10 more (years). I can’t imagine that would be possible. It’s a one Wednesday at a time, one Thursday, one Friday. I’d love to play as long as I can. I hope I get to.”
With how sharp Palmer is looking these days, there appears to be no end in sight to his career, barring injury.
Benjamin Watson, tight end, New Orleans Saints
At the ripe age of 34, Watson has been turning heads as a handy pass-catcher for Drew Brees. He has already well surpassed all yardage recorded from his two previous seasons with the Saints.
In 2015, Watson has caught 46 of his intended 58 targets for a total of 551 yards and three touchdowns. In turn, this marks the most receiving yards he has posted since his 2010 season with the Cleveland Browns. With the Saints absent Jimmy Graham this year, Brees and Watson have established a strong rapport.
“I’ve always felt like he was just a phenomenal athlete and could do everything,” Brees said (via nola.com. “I mean, I don’t know if there is a more complete tight end in the league, in regards to what he brings to the run game, pass game, not only catching but blocking, what he means to us in the locker room.”
Did we just catch an inadvertent diss from Brees to Graham there?
At any rate, with the pace that Watson is posting yardage, he is on track to finish 2015 with 979 yards, which would be his all-time career high.
Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots
There was no way of getting around the fact that Brady, at 38 years of age, is playing football as if he was 28.
If there was anybody thinking that Brady’s Super Bowl-winning 2014 season was it and he would return washed-up in 2015, shame on you! The quarterback weathered a stressful Deflategate-filled summer, along with a possible four-game suspension looming over his head until shortly before the start of the regular season.
And for that, it would appear Brady only returned stronger. Leading his undefeated team to nine wins thus far, Brady is on course to finish 2015 with 5,409 passing yards (a career high) and roughly 43 touchdowns, which would be second to his 50 scored in 2007.
So far this season, Brady has completed 67.8 percent of his passes which is also the second-highest of his career. And, he’ll finish the season with only five interceptions if he keeps his picks in tact.
Completely dominating the AFC East, there is little doubt at this time that Brady and the Patriots are already an early bet to make it to the quarterback’s seventh Super Bowl this coming February.
Darrelle Revis, corner back, New York Jets
Revis, who turned 30 in July, kicked off his ninth year of his career back as a member of the New York Jets, which is where it all started for the legendary cover man.
Thriving with his former team that selected him in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Revis is currently rated sixth-highest among his fellow cornerbacks. So far for the season, Revis has registered three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, 19 tackles and eight assists. His total of six takeaways for the season so far ties his six from his 2009 season with New York.
There’s a reason he has earned the term “Revis Island” that causes many quarterbacks to avoid or throw very little to the receivers he covers. Opposing coaches even fear matchups against Revis. Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano described the talented cornerback thusly, via ESPN.com.
“It’s like fine wine, they just keep getting better with age. I don’t see any difference in Darrelle. He’s a great, great player and he’s very, very smart. Great competitor and he’s got all the physical skills, but he’s so crafty and he’s so smart.”
It looks to be awhile before we see the four-time All-Pro settle down and even consider retiring at this high point of his career.
DeAngelo Williams, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers
When the Carolina Panthers showed their former first-round draft pick the door after nine seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers dusted Williams off signed the 32-year old during the offseason.
And, it must be something going on about the move up the coast because Williams has absolutely thrived as a member of the Steelers thus far. While we watched Williams fill in for the suspended Le’Veon Bell during the first two weeks of the season, he was nothing short of fabulous, tallying 204 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
As was expected once Bell returned, Williams was pretty quiet. Although now, the veteran is back in action due to an unfortunate season-ending injury Bell sustained in Week 8. Starring in the best performance of his 10-year career, Williams rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9. This is in addition to the 55 receiving yards he also racked up from just two receptions in that game.
So far this season, Williams has 107 carries for 534 yards, earned at the pace of 5.0 yards per attempt. As long as the injury bug doesn’t bite him, he looks to remain a valuable asset for the Steelers, and for his fantasy owners.