Okay, so, granted, as of The Fall, Picard is 80 years old. But longevity is greater in the 24th century. Elias Vaughn was still vigorous and capable in his early 100s. So I'm not convinced Picard has to go anywhere. I don't think audiences would really want to see a version of TNG that didn't focus on Picard.
This is true! However if Picard died or whatever, I say give the Enterprise to Riker. You know he wants it.