Sunday, July 18, 2010
Followup: Age-old questions answered
By Mike Sando
Age caught up to some of the best players in NFC West history this offseason.
Walter Jones, Isaac Bruce and Kurt Warner retired. Jones' knee was the problem. Bruce was no longer an impact player. Warner decided to move on with his life. All were at least 36 years old.
Some of the NFL's oldest players still have ties to current NFC West teams. The chart ranks each division by average age for offensive and defensive players (no specialists). It also shows how many 30-plus players each division employs (again, no specialists). The final column shows the oldest player in each division, including NFC West alumni Bobby Engram and Joey Galloway.
The four oldest players in the NFC East have roots with current NFC West teams: Galloway, Jon Kitna, Phillip Daniels and London Fletcher.
Paul Kuharsky's recent item focusing on the AFC South's youth holds up here. Only 19 non-specialists in the division are 30 or older. The AFC North has 50 such players. The Indianapolis Colts annually maintain one of the youngest rosters in the league.
I've found that teams running 3-4 defenses often prefer older players. Defensive players on teams with 3-4 schemes average 26.3 years old, compared to 25.7 for defensive players on 4-3 teams. This makes sense because 3-4 schemes can feature more moving parts, putting greater value on experience. These defenses can also value size over speed, putting less value on youth.
The information is based on the rosters I maintain for every team in the league. I had been missing roughly a dozen ages for rookie free agents until the NFL made available its 2011 Record & Fact Book featuring dates of birth. I'm now missing a birthday for only one NFL player: Damola Adeniji of the Oakland Raiders.