Average playing career length in the National Football League (in years)

The statistic depicts the average length of a player's career in the National Football League, considering different aspects influencing the length of a playing career. According to the NFL Players Association the average career length is about 3.3 years. The NFL claims that the average career is about 6 years (for players who make a club's opening day roster in their rookie season).

Average NFL career length – additional information

Players with at least one Pro Bowl appearance usually have the longest career of all NFL players. These players’ careers last for 11.7 years on average, nearly four times longer than the average NFL career. First-round draft picks also have a NFL career length far above average – around nine years. In terms of positions, kickers and punters have the longest NFL career average, as their positions require the least physical contact in comparison to other positions. Quarterbacks are next on the list, with average career length of around 4.4 years. George Blanda, who played both as a kicker and a quarterback, has the longest NFL career of all times, playing for 26 seasons in total.

Quarterbacks not only have a longer career than the average NFL player, but they command the highest salaries in the league. Six out of ten of the players with the highest salaries in the NFL are quarterbacks. Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leads all players, with a salary of 35.25 million U.S. dollars in 2015. Roethlisberger was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and played his entire career with the Steelers. He is ranked seventh, tied with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman for career playoff wins. Tom Brady, drafted by the New England Patriots in 2000, has won 22 playoff games during his career, the most ever for a quarterback. Brady has led his team to four Super Bowls titles, placing the Pats amongst the top NFL teams in number of championships, only behind the Steelers, the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.

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 Average career length in years
Players with at least one Pro Bowl selection / appearance 11.7
First-round draft picks 9.3
Player with at least three pension-credited seasons* 7.1
Player who makes a club's opening day roster in his rookie season 6
Average career of an NFL player** 3.3
Kickers & Punters** 4.87
Quarterbacks** 4.44
Cornerbacks** 2.94
Wide receivers** 2.81
Running backs** 2.57
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