ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel is contemplating retirement after this season because he's frustrated after nine years of missing the playoffs and worried that he has lost a step as the team's top pass-rusher.
"I don't know my future really, what I'm going to do," Schobel told two reporters after practice Wednesday. "I'm going to go home and I'm going to think about it, see if this is what I want to do."
Schobel went public with his uncertain future after the Bills (5-9) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 17-10 loss to the New England Patriots last weekend. Buffalo (5-9), which plays at Atlanta (7-7) on Sunday, will miss the playoffs for a 10th consecutive year -- and ninth consecutive for Schobel since he was selected by the Bills in the second round of the 2001 draft out of TCU.
Tied with punter Brian Moorman as the current team's longest-tenured player, Schobel has four years left on a $50.5 million contract extension that he signed before the 2007 season.
At 32, Schobel said age, his performance and enjoying a healthy life after football will weigh into his decision.
"I don't think I'm as athletic as I once was," the two-time Pro Bowl selection said. "I mean, if I'm not as good as I once was, or not making the plays I should make, I'm not going to be around."
Schobel shrugged off a question about the fact that he hasn't missed a start this season and is leading the team with seven sacks -- the most he has had since registering a career-best 14 in 2006.
"This is a time when your knowledge of the game can't make up for your athletic decline," Schobel said. "But I don't know if I'm there yet, we'll see."
His 75 career sacks rank second in Bills history behind Bruce Smith, and Schobel is enjoying a comeback season after missing most of last year with a foot injury. Although his foot has healed, Schobel has been bothered by a sore back and an elbow injury for most of this season.
The news doesn't come to a surprise to those close to Schobel, who has hinted about retirement all year and broached the possibility to Bills management before the season. Schobel also has discussed his potential retirement with several teammates, including fellow defensive end Chris Kelsay.
"No, we haven't discussed it, and no, he can't," Fewell said, referring to how important of a role Schobel has in the Bills' defense.
Schobel is frustrated by the team's perennial poor performance. He has enjoyed only one winning season in Buffalo -- in 2004, when the team went 9-7 -- and is on his fourth head coach after Dick Jauron was fired last month. This year, Schobel is anchoring a banged-up defense that has five starters on injured reserve after cornerback Terrence McGee and safety Jairus Byrd were added to the season-ending list this week.
Though the defense ranks fifth against the pass this season, Buffalo is 31st in the NFL in allowing 165.6 rushing yards per game.
"I think we need to be more consistent," Schobel said, referring to what's required to build the Bills into contenders. "Obviously, the injuries have killed us in a lot of positions. I don't know. I have my opinion, but it's my opinion, and I'll leave it that."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press