Former first-round NFL cornerback Trae Waynes doesn’t feel like he has another season in him.
According to a recent interview on the Geary and Stein Sports Show, Waynes — a free agent after getting cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in March — told the hosts that dealing with injuries for the past two years has deprived him of his drive to return to football.
While not making a retirement fully official, Waynes sounded ready to walk away from the NFL.
“It’s open, but I’m not really exploring anything, to be honest with you,” Waynes said. “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.”
Waynes proved to be a dependable corner with the Minnesota Vikings between 2015-19.
Cincinnati signed Waynes to a three-year, $42 million deal in 2020.
His transition to the Bengals felt like an apt fit to complement the budding secondary. Unfortunately, Waynes suffered a torn pectoral injury in his first offseason with the Bengals and missed the entire 2020 season; then landed on IR with the Bengals in 2021.
Waynes was active for the Bengals’ recent appearance on the Super Bowl stage against the Los Angeles Rams but played a limited role on special teams, seemingly not at 100 percent health.
“It didn’t feel like a Super Bowl to me because my time in Cincinnati has just been injuries,” Waynes noted. “That’s something that I never really experienced in Minnesota.”
He added, “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. … 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.'”
Waynes stated that teams reached out since leaving Cincinnati. However, Waynes is looking to pivot to spending more time with family in his potential retirement.
“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,'” Waynes said. “Could I easily keep playing several more years? Yes. But I got a family, I want to be around with my kids more. …
“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. … 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.”
After 79 games and 57 starts, Waynes amassed seven interceptions, 259 tackles, 43 passes defended, and a sack.
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