Cutdown day has come and gone, and the New England Patriots now have 53 players on their roster. While there will be changes over the course of the next few days, weeks and months, we do know what the core of the team’s 2019 version will look like — one that will try to defend the Patriots’ Super Bowl title. We also know that the roster is a deep one from top to bottom; and quite old compared to the rest of the league.
In fact, the Patriots currently have the oldest 53-man squad in the NFL. Based on a breakdown by The Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski, we analyzed the roster age of the world champions and found out that it averages 27.2 years of age (27.0 median) after the recently reported wide receiver transaction (N’Keal Harry to injured reserve; Demaryius Thomas re-signed). This makes the team clearly the oldest in all of football.
For comparison, the second-oldest team in the league — the Philadelphia Eagles — has an average age of ‘only’ 26.6 years on its 53-man squad. The NFL’s youngest squad, meanwhile, checks in at a spry 25.2: the Miami Dolphins, who are currently rebuilding under first-year head coach and former Patriots defensive play caller Brian Flores, are younger than any other squad in pro football at this point in time.
The reasons for the difference and New England’s ranking at the bottom of the list can quickly be spotted. Look no further than the quarterback position: despite still being the NFL’s best passer, 42-year-old Tom Brady is also the oldest non-specialist in the league. His main receiving weapons not even counting 38-year-old Benjamin Watson, who is suspended for the first four weeks of the regular season, include a 33-year-old Julian Edelman and a 31-year-old Demaryius Thomas.
Brady and some of his offensive skill players are not the only older players expected to see considerable action this season. In fact, a total of twelve players on the current active roster are over the age of 30. All of them are either expected to serve as starters or key rotational pieces:
Nate Ebner (special teamer; 30), James Develin (fullback; 31), Marcus Cannon (offensive tackle; 31), Demaryius Thomas (wide receiver; 31), Patrick Chung (safety; 32), Devin McCourty (safety; 32), Jason McCourty (cornerback; 32), Michael Bennett (defensive end; 33), Julian Edelman (wide receiver; 33), Matthew Slater (special teamer; 33), Stephen Gostkowski (kicker; 35), Tom Brady (quarterback; 42)
That being said and despite being voted the worst team in the NFL 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 — from preseason standouts such as edge defender Chase Winovich and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers to projected starters/core reserves such as offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, running back Sony Michel, and cornerback J.C. Jackson.
Nevertheless, New England needs 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, where 23-year-old rookie Jarrett Stidham will serve as Tom Brady’s lone backup this year. While he may or may not be the heir to Brady’s legendary throne, he has shown some encouraging skills this summer to beat out veteran Brian Hoyer.