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What Position Has Longest Average NFL Career?

Justin Tucker's kicking position has the longest average NFL career.

As the 2021 NFL season passes the midway point, Thanksgiving is a time when you might throw the pigskin in the yard before the big feast. But what position are you playing in the yard and how would that translate to professional football?

Of course, everyone wants to be either Tom Brady slinging the rock around or Eric Dickerson plowing through middle linebackers and rushing toward the goal line. However, the unsung hero may be the most stable for an established career.

Kickers Have Longest Average Career

In the above graphic provided by statista, you can see that kickers, including punters, have the longest average career length at 4.87 years, which is 2.5 years longer than the league average for all positions.

This is probably not surprising considering that the wear and tear on the kicker position is minimal, assuming you have a somewhat competent offensive line. Take, for example, arguably the best placekicker in NFL history, the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker. He is now in his 10th season and is still performing at a high level, setting the record for longest field goal earlier this season.

So, if you want your kid to have a career rather than a cup of coffee in the NFL, perhaps strengthening that kicking leg with uprights in the backyard is your wisest decision. That said, being a kicker like Billy Cundiff can come with a lot of stresses. He was a member of 14 teams and is best known for missing a field goal for the Ravens in the AFC championship game vs the Patriots in 2012 – a lot of moving expenses with no glory.

Quarterback Is The Sweet Spot

While kicking may not be the most exciting approach, it does have longevity. That said, the signal-caller has the perfect blend of the second-longest average career, popularity and fame, along with the biggest paychecks.

The above graphic, also from statista, shows the highest-paid athletes in the NFL in 2020 and you can see that four of the top five players are quarterbacks, with no kickers to be found on the list. The career may not be as long unless you are a unicorn like Tom Brady, but the money should last you a lifetime unless you want to be featured in ESPN 30 for 30: Broke.

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Avoid The Running Back Position

No doubt the worst position to set your child up for in football is tailback. Injuries are the major concern for the running back position, running full speed through a small hole, if you’re lucky, only to be greeted by an angry 290-pound lineman or 250-pound linebacker looking to stop you in your tracks.

As a result, the career length is a dismal 2.57 years to make your money, but unfortunately, given the risk of the position, the money isn’t great enough. I go back to the above graphic of the highest-paid players and there isn’t a running back within the 10. In fact, going through the full list, the highest-paid halfback is Derrick Henry, who ranks 44th and is one of only two running backs in the top 100.