Vikings’ Newman says 2018 will be his final season

MINNEAPOLIS — Only time will tell how sweet Terence Newman‘s 16th season in the NFL turns out to be.

The oldest active defensive player in the league is almost certain, though, it will be his last.

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“You have to figure out something else that you want to do, once you get to my age,” Newman said on a conference call with Minnesota reporters on Tuesday, the day after re-upping with the Vikings. “I think this will be my last year. No matter what happens, this will be it for me.”

Newman, who will turn 40 just five days before Minnesota’s season opener, has given head coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings plenty of value for the series of low-risk one-year contracts they have signed him to.

He has missed only one game in his first three seasons in purple, providing immeasurable guidance for the younger pupils in the secondary while capably playing as one of the top three cornerbacks on the team.

Newman has made 33 starts in three years, evolving into more of a situational player in the slot as Trae Waynes took hold of the outside spot opposite Xavier Rhodes.

Still, Newman was counted on in 2017 just as much in the nickel defense as Mackensie Alexander, who was given every opportunity to run with that role, but has not gained the coaching staff’s full trust.

This will be Newman’s 10th season under Zimmer, after stints together with Dallas and Cincinnati when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for those teams. Don’t expect some kind of farewell tour this fall, though, for the NFL’s active career interceptions leader with 42.

“It’s been a heck of a ride. I understand when it’s time for me, and it’s time for me,” said Newman, who has played in two Pro Bowls but not a Super Bowl.

His career record in the playoffs is just 2-8. “I’m not going to put anything on this or do anything special. I’m just going to go out and do the same things I’ve always done. That’s go out and try to get better and try to help this team get better.”

Newman’s first experience in a conference championship game came Jan. 21, when the Vikings lost 38-7 at Philadelphia.

He was set on returning, having come so close to a title, so a new deal was only a matter of working out the particulars between his agent and the team. Newman said a personal matter kept him from signing in time to arrive for the April 16 start of the offseason strength and conditioning program.

For now, he’s focused on the 2018 season with the Vikings. The next phase of life can wait a few more months.

“I’ve got a lot of options, so that’s good. I just will have to get to that point,” he said. “Who says I will do anything immediately after football? I may take my time and do some things that I haven’t done in the last 15 years. Take my time and make a decision when I’m ready, I guess.”