With the New England Patriots having cut down their roster to 52 players yesterday, we now know the core of what the team’s 2018 version will look like. And while it will continue to evolve over the course of the next few months, one thing becomes clear when looking at it: despite some questions about the depth at the wide receiver and offensive tackle positions, the Patriots have a generally deep squad – and a comparatively old one.
In fact, only two teams are older than New England. The Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski compared initial 53-man roster across the NFL in terms of age and found out that the Patriots’ average player is 26.8 years old, which ties the the team with the Carolina Panthers for the 29th oldest squad in all of football. For comparison, the league’s youngest roster – the Cincinnati Bengals’ – is only 25.2 years on average.
The reasons for the difference and New England’s ranking near the bottom can quickly be spotted. Look no further than the quarterback position: despite being the NFL’s best passer, 41-year old Tom Brady is also the oldest non-specialist in the league. His backup Brian Hoyer is noticeably younger at 32, but still of ripe age when compared to other players and quarterbacks across the NFL.
Brady and Hoyer are just two examples of older players having been able to secure a spot on the team. In fact, nine more men on the current roster are over 30. With the exception of projected depth defensive back Jason McCourty, all of them are expected to play pivotal roles on the 2018 Patriots either as starters – like wide receiver Chris Hogan, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, and safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung – or key rotational pieces.
That being said and despite being voted the worst team in terms of talent under the age of 25 earlier this offseason, the Patriots certainly also have plenty of young players to potentially build upon for the future. Training camp standouts cornerback J.C. Jackson, defensive edge Deatrich Wise Jr. and offensive tackle Trent Brown are just three examples of younger players rising to the occasion and displaying possible long-term upside.
Nevertheless, New England does need to find suitable replacements for the older players that drive up their average age over the next few seasons. And none of them is more important than the quarterback spot.