September 01, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles' roster is so old, they remember Fifty Cent when he was a penny. The Eagles' roster is so old, they walked out of a museum and the alarm went off. The Eagles' roster is so old, they knew Mr. Clean when he had an afro.
OK, I'll stop. But seriously, the Eagles' roster is old. In fact, at 53-man cutdowns on Saturday, it was the second oldest roster in the NFL:
|Team||Average age||Team||Average age|
|Dolphins||25.2 (1)||Ravens||25.9 (17)|
|Bucs||25.4 (2)||Giants||26.0 (18)|
|Browns||25.4 (3)||Texans||26.0 (19)|
|Seahawks||25.5 (4)||Washington||26.1 (20)|
|Packers||25.5 (5)||Saints||26.2 (21)|
|Vikings||25.5 (6)||Bears||26.2 (22)|
|Colts||25.6 (7)||Lions||26.2 (23)|
|Jaguars||25.6 (8)||Cowboys||26.3 (24)|
|Raiders||25.6 (9)||Panthers||26.3 (25)|
|Rams||25.6 (10)||Bills||26.3 (26)|
|Broncos||25.7 (11)||Cardinals||26.4 (27)|
|49ers||25.7 (12)||Falcons||26.5 (28)|
|Bengals||25.7 (13)||Titans||26.5 (29)|
|Steelers||25.7 (14)||Jets||26.5 (30)|
|Chargers||25.8 (15)||Eagles||26.6 (31)|
|Chiefs||25.9 (16)||Patriots||27.0 (32)|
The above chart begs the question, "Should Eagles fans begin to crack each others' heads open, and feast on the goo inside?" I would say, not yet, but maybe soon.
To begin, let's first take a moment to acknowledge that Howie Roseman has built one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. The Eagles are unquestionably Super Bowl contenders, you know, as long as the quarterback stays healthy, and fans should go right ahead and enjoy them this season.
However, creating a team that can compete for a Super Bowl year-in and year-out is difficult, and the fact that the Eagles currently have the second-oldest roster in the NFL should indicate that challenges staying near the top lie ahead.
A year ago, the Eagles actually had the 11th youngest roster in the NFL, at an average age of 25.7 years old. In 2019, as you can see in the chart above, they are now at 26.6, gaining almost a year. When this fact was pointed out on Twitter, a gaggle of morons responded, "gEe, tHaNKs fOr pOiNTiNg oUt ThaT a yEaR lAteR tHeY'Re a yEaR oLDeR!"
Of course, by that logic, the Eagles' average age in 1983 would have been -10.6 years old, and by the time 2119 rolls around, their average age will be 126.6.
The reality is that the Eagles are tied with the Cowboys for the biggest year-over-year jump in age in the NFL from 2018 to 2019, at an average increase of 0.9 years. The next closest teams (there were three of them) had an increase of 0.5 years on average.
Yes, if indeed McCown (40), Peters (37), and Sproles (36) are no longer on the roster in 2020, getting the collective ages of that trio off the tally will lower the overall average, obviously.
However, it's noteworthy that the Eagles currently have the fifth-most players in the NFL who are 30 years of age or older. They also have the most players in the NFL who are 29 years of age or older:
|Team||29+ year old players||Team||29+ year old players|
11 of the 18 Eagles players who will be 30 years old this time next year are starters. In other words, the Eagles' future age concerns can't just be hand-waived away by noting that McCown, Peters, and Sproles will all be gone.
It's difficult to imagine how the Eagles could have the biggest increase in age year-over-year during an offseason in which they lost more than a handful of older players, like Haloti Ngata (35) Chris Long (34), Michael Bennett (33), Golden Tate (31), and Nick Foles (30), but they did!
Why? Well, the players they added in free agency (and via trades) kept their overall age high. A list of some of their older additions:
Roseman's "old guy strategy" makes some sense, as he is able to acquire contributing role players at a low cost, because they're old. It paid off big-time for the Eagles in their run to the Super Bowl in 2017. In 2018, however, the five old guys Roseman acquired missed a combined 30 games, which is a risk with older players, despite improving sports science. Those players were also largely ineffective when they were on the field, Michael Bennett aside.
Roseman is obviously going back to the "old guy strategy" in 2019. Best two out of three?
Meanwhile, in the draft, the Eagles only selected five players, and one didn't even make the team. That was one year after the Eagles, again, only had five draft picks. As we have noted several times this offseason, the Eagles are tied with the Titans for the lowest number of picks made over the last two years:
The Eagles had two undrafted free agent rookies (Nate Herbig and T.J. Edwards) make the team in 2019, and one (Bruce Hector) make it in 2018. Hector is already gone.
Well, the science of age fluctuation of NFL rosters isn't very complicated. Players who carry over from one year to the next all gain a year of age, but that gain in age is offset league-wide by a combination of a couple hundred incoming rookies taking the place of outgoing aging veterans who see their careers end.
The Eagles continue to add older players in free agency each year, but they have not simultaneously filled the pipeline through the draft with young players, at least in volume.
While filling the roster with older, low-cost veterans who can immediately fill roles is fine in the short term, at some point the Eagles will have to reserve some of those roster spots for rookie draft picks, (a) so that they're not suddenly left with an empty cupboard of young talent, and (b) so they have more players on cheap rookie contracts, which is a necessity now that Carson Wentz is no longer on his rookie deal.
Ultimately, the Eagles' roster construction remains sound. They prioritize quarterback, offensive tackle, the defensive line, and to a lesser degree, cornerback and wide receiver. All of those positions have been addressed early in the draft since Roseman reemerged from his basement hideout in 2016.
Still, the team cannot continue to make a small number of draft picks anymore, or they run a serious risk of a major rebuild in a few years.
*Those "Yo momma's so old" jokes were stolen from various places online.
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports
Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader