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. We also know that the roster is among the oldest in the NFL — even with long-time starting quarterback Tom Brady having left the organization in free agency.
In fact, only five other teams currently have a higher average age on their 53-man squad than the Patriots. Like he does every year, Jimmy Kempski of The Philly Voice, broke down the league’s 32 rosters based on average age. New England’s checks in at 27th with an average of 26.4 years — far closer to the bottom of the list (the Atlanta Falcons’ 26.9) than to its top (the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 24.9).
While the ranking presents an improvement compared to the last two years, when the Patriots came in 32nd (27.0) and 30th (26.8), respectively, they remain in the bottom half of the league in average age for the fourth cutdown weekend in a row.
The reasons New England’s ranking near the bottom of the list can quickly be spotted. Despite some of the team’s oldest players leaving the team this offseason — Tom Brady (43 in 2020), Benjamin Watson (39), Stephen Gostkowski (36), Patrick Chung (33) — 10 others remain or were brought aboard who are over the age of 30. And as can be seen, most of them are either expected to serve as starters or key rotational pieces:
WR Matthew Slater (34), QB Brian Hoyer (34), WR Julian Edelman (34), S Devin McCourty (33), CB Jason McCourty (33), QB Cam Newton (31), S Cody Davis (31), DT Lawrence Guy (30), RB Rex Burkhead (30), CB Justin Bethel (30)
Last year, for comparison, the Patriots had 12 players on their initial 53-man team who were over the age of 30. While old age, spoken strictly in football terms, is not necessarily a bad thing per se or indicative of a team’s performance in any way, an old roster without suitable replacements in the pipeline could turn into an issue further down the line.
New England therefore needs to find suitable heirs for the older players on its roster listed above. The recent wave of opt-outs accelerated this process, as players such as Chung, Marcus Cannon or Dont’a Hightower will now need to be replaced — at least for the 2020 season. Still, that youth movement needs to yield results in order for the Patriots to keep their dynasty alive even with Brady gone and other core players following him sooner rather than later.
The Patriots, however, do have plenty of young players to potentially build upon for the future. From promising rookies such as Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche or Devin Asiasi, to developmental sophomores like Jarrett Stidham, N’Keal Harry or Jake Bailey, to projected starters/core reserves such as Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel, Chase Winovich and J.C. Jackson, the team’s young core has shown some promise recently.