If any football player was secretly Benjamin Button, it would be Tom Brady. No one learns to be a more mobile quarterback at the age of 37, no one changes their workout regimens to become more flexible at the age of 37, and no quarterback is supposed to carry their offense at the age of 37.
Old man time is twiddling his thumbs waiting for Brady to slow down, but the quarterback's avocado ice cream shield seems impenetrable.
Brady turns 38 on August 3rd and it's important because he's seven years older than anyone else on the roster. That's longer than the average career of NFL athlete.
New England waved good-bye to Vince Wilfork and Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis in a seemingly concerted effort to remain youthful. Dan Connolly, who turns 33 on September 2nd, remains unsigned and the Patriots don't seem to be in any rush to sign him, even though they definitely want him back.
Of the players currently under contract with the Patriots, three will be 31 by Opening Kick-Off Thursday, September 10th, 2015. They are kicker Stephen Gostkowski, edge defender Rob Ninkovich, and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Kickers can play until their 40s, so New England's in no rush to replace the most accurate kicker in NFL history, but the Patriots have already made moves for Ninkovich and Vollmer.
The Patriots restructured Ninkovich's contract and converted his playing time incentives into a signing bonus to allow for a rotation on the defensive edge with the newly signed Jabaal Sheard. The Patriots reached a contract extension with Marcus Cannon this past season and drafted Cameron Fleming in the 2014 draft, both players who are fits for Vollmer's right tackle role.
A further four players will be 30 on September 10th. All Pro special teams captain Matthew Slater turns 30 on September 9th, while newly acquired Scott Chandler turns 30 over the summer. There are two defensive tackles who will be 30, as Alan Branch signed a new deal and Antonio Johnson, a former Colts and Titans defender the Patriots offered a futures/reserve contract to last year, both turn 31 in December.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola will turn 30 in November. No one else on the roster will be 30 by the end of the season.
In total, there are eight players who will be over the age of 30 by opening weekend. The players 31 or older all have younger back-ups and potential replacements on the roster. The 30-year-olds are all rotational players, and Johnson might not even make the squad.
The Patriots have made an effort to remain young as a team. They return ten of their Super Bowl starters (and potentially all eleven if Connolly signs back) and eight of their defensive starters. This is a roster that's technically entering its prime over the next few years.
Some teams go through rebuilds. The Patriots are still reloading.