The Eagles are old.
With an average age of 26.7 according to Spotrac, they’re the third-oldest team in the NFL based on 53-man rosters as of Monday morning.
Now, this isn’t a problem right now. In fact, the two older teams — the Patriots and Falcons — have deep playoff aspirations, just like the Eagles.
But when you look at the Eagles’ roster, you can’t help notice that their best players are well along in their careers.
Jason Peters is 37, Darren Sproles 36, DeSean Jackson 32, Jason Kelce, Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Graham 31, Brandon Brooks 30, Lane Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Rodney McLeod, Malik Jackson and Nigel Bradham 29, Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox 28.
Now, nobody is thinking about retiring at 28 or 29 … well, almost nobody … but the reality is that as stocked as the Eagles roster is for 2019 and 2020, when you start looking a few years into the future — which is a big part of Howie Roseman’s job — you don’t see the proven young stars that so many other teams have.
And it’s clear now how much that reality shaped the Eagles’ offseason.
On the wall of Howie Roseman’s office there are projected depth charts for this year but also for the next few years.
And the absence of elite young talent, even while the Eagles have been winning a lot of games, has been looming.
• League-wide, there were 39 Pro Bowlers last year who were 25 or younger. None were Eagles.
• Over the last three years — since Roseman returned to power — there have been 81 Pro Bowlers 25 or younger and only one — Carson Wentz — from the Eagles.
• Wentz is the only Pro Bowler the Eagles have selected since the 2013 Lane Johnson/Zach Ertz draft, and as talented as he is, he obviously still has a ton to prove.
For the sake of comparison, the Cowboys over the last three years have had six players 25 and younger make a Pro Bowl, the Rams and Chiefs have had five, the Saints and even the Giants have had four.
Which brings us to this offseason and even final cuts this weekend.
Roseman is the best in the business and he knows that building a roster isn’t just about bringing in the 53 most talented players, it’s also about setting the team up for the future.
Even with just five draft picks, he seems to have infused the offense with potential high-level young talent in Andre Dillard, Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Jordan Howard, who came in a trade, is a former Pro Bowler who’s only 24.
But here’s where this is really interesting.
It seems like a lot of the Eagles’ weekend decisions were geared toward getting younger.
Keeping Nate Herbig instead of Stefen Wisniewski. Keeping six defensive ends because they didn’t want to part with Daeshon Hall, Josh Sweat or Shareef Miller, all young talents. Keeping undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards instead of one of the veteran linebackers in camp. Snagging 24-year-old special teams demon Rudy Ford off the waiver wire. Keeping young linemen like Matt Pryor and Jordan Mailata even though they’ve never played an NFL snap.
Roseman was asked about this Saturday, and his answer was revealing.
“We have to understand that we have to develop players,” he said. “We have to bet on our young players. We have to bet on our scouting. We have to bet on our coaching.”
In other words, it’s not enough to just gather up the 53 best players you can find. You have to do it with a constant eye on the future.
The Eagles do have some truly promising young players.
Heck, Dallas Goedert and Corey Clement are 24. Derek Barnett, Avonte Maddox, Dillard Sidney Jones are 23. Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside are only 22.
But as promising as all those guys are, as much as they all look like big pieces of the future, none has ever even been a full-time starter.
Who’s the next Fletcher? Who’s the next Malcolm? The next Nigel Bradham? The next Alshon or DeSean? The next Kelce or Peters?
Who are the stars of the future?
Roseman’s offseason was all about not only building a team that can contend for a Super Bowl right now but to do it with an eye on the future.
Was he successful? We’ll know in about three years.
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