The analysts over at ESPN have averaged the age of of every NFL team's roster, not including punters, kickers or long snappers, in order to see how each team rates in age. The New England Patriots are the 6th oldest team in the league, averaging 26.64 years of age, only .69 away from the oldest team, the Washington Redskins.
Keep in mind that an old team isn't necessarily a bad team. It should signify an experienced team, but that is clearly a flawed theory, due to the Redskins being the oldest team on average. The past three or four years, all the talk about the Patriots has been about how the team is getting older and is on a down trend. Players like Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour were getting past their prime and more youth needed to be infused in the team.
Notice how those three players I mentioned were all defensive players.
The past few years, amidst all the talk of age, the Patriots defense has been restocking its youth. Brandon Meriweather was brought on as a long term replacement for Harrison. Jerod Mayo for Bruschi. Young players like Gary Guyton, Brandon Spikes, Tyrone McKenzie, Jermaine Cunningham, Darius Butler, Devin McCourty, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, Pat Chung, Ron Brace and Myron Pryor have all been brought on you reduce the age of the defense and set the team up for the future.
The issue is on the offense. The Patriots could possibly start an offensive 11 with nine players over the age of 30 (Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Torry Holt, Alge Crumpler, Kevin Faulk, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Matt Light, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal are all over the age of 30 and could make the starting roster). The team has a great need for youth and the team has started addressing this need at the skill positions; young players like Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski all have under 2 years of NFL experience.
The biggest needs for the offense is on the offensive line. The Patriots have a young star in Sebastian Vollmer, but no other young player has emerged over the past few years as a reliable every game starter. The veteran linemen who are over 30 years old are still playing extremely well, which has allowed the Patriots to use their early round draft picks on the defense, but now the team is left without a future on the offensive line.
While the team ranks high in average age, I believe that the age of the Patriots players brings valuable experience- unlike the age of some other teams. I don't think that the Patriots age should provide much of a problem this upcoming season, but questions remain as to what players will become starters down the road.
Will the Patriots age provide an advantage for this team? Or will player durability be the theme of the next couple of years as certain players' bodies begin to break down?