A decision on the playing status of Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver could be coming as soon as next week, and it appears as if Driver is more likely to retire from the NFL than attempt a 15th season.
According to Mike Garafolo of USA Today, Driver is “leaning toward” retirement.
“Following a disappointing season in which he caught eight passes and was inactive for one of the team’s two playoff games, Driver is leaning toward retirement, according to a person informed of Driver’s thinking on the matter. The person, who spoke to USA TODAY on condition of anonymity because Driver hasn’t made a final decision, said an announcement could come as soon as next week.”
Driver, 37, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He signed a one-year, $2.3 million restructured deal last June, but then put together the most unproductive season since his rookie year of 1999. In 13 games, Driver caught just eight passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Driver has said on multiple occasions that he wants to play until he’s 40 years old, and even last June, said that he wants to play two more seasons.
“I’m going to play two more years, this one, then next year, then I’m completely done,” Driver said. “(I’m) gonna put my cleats on the shelf and do something different.”
Such a sharp decline in playing time from the only franchise he’s ever played for might have altered that plan. After receiving 563 snaps in 17 games (including playoffs) last season, Driver played on just 154 in 2012-13. He was also inactive for four of the last seven games, including a playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings.
That said, Driver was adament following the Packers’ loss in San Francisco during the Divisional Round that he can still play.
“I feel like I can still play. I think I’ve proven that. I think I’m just going to see what’s out there for me and if teams call and want me to come then I’ve got to make that decision. If not, if the Packers want me back, then I’ll come back. So at this point it may not work here, but it may work somewhere else.”
Even if Driver decides to return for a 15th season, it likely won’t take place in Green Bay. While fellow receiver Greg Jennings appears ready to walk in free agency, the Packers still have top players in Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb at the position, plus youngsters such as Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross. General manager Ted Thompson is unlikely to make the same mistake twice in keeping Driver around one year too long.
After 14 seasons, Driver would end his Packers’ career as the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (743) and receiving yards (10,137). He also caught 61 touchdown passes.
Driver turns 38 next month.