Cornerback Trae Waynes was the 11th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and recently played for the Cincinnati Bengals in his seven-season career — a career he now says might be over. The 29-year-old has not officially retired, but he has all but hung up the cleats.
Waynes spoke on the Geary & Stein Sports Show podcast and when asked if he wants to continue playing football, he said, “It’s open, but I’m not really exploring anything, to be honest with you. Multiple teams have actually called. Honestly, in my head, I’m done. I’m not officially doing it just because I don’t give a [expletive]. But I’m retired, but it’s not like I announced it or anything.”
Injuries have impacted his career and what could be the final game of his career, a Super Bowl appearance with the Bengals against the Los Angeles Rams,
“I was supposed to play in the Super Bowl — well I played a little bit — but I was supposed to go in, but I ended up getting hurt again,” he said. “I told my wife this after the game, I was like ‘there’s nothing more frustrating knowing you’re supposed to be out there but you physically can’t because your body is just failing.’ “
While a Super Bowl run is what every NFL player works towards, Waynes said it did not feel the way it should have.
“It didn’t feel like a Super Bowl to me because my time in Cincinnati has just been injuries,” he said. “That’s something that I never really experienced in Minnesota.”
It’s not that teams aren’t interested, but he wants to ensure his physical health remains intact.
“I actually almost went to Philly to go back with JG (Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon) and Ant (safety Anthony Harris). But at that point I was like ‘I’m ready to be done,'” he said. “Could I easily keep playing several more years? Yes. But I got a family, I want to be around with my kids more.”
Looking back on his career, he feels like he accomplished everything he wanted to.
“For me, I played, I lived the dream, I did it, I made enough money to where I can take care of my family. Being able to walk away on my own terms is always something I wanted to do,” he said. “There’s more to life than football. And I want to enjoy life outside of football without limping or walking in pain all the time and stuff like that. It’s bittersweet but I know at the end of the day it’s probably the right decision.”
Waynes, who was released by the Bengals in March, has 259 tackles, seven interceptions, 43 passes defended and one sack in his career.