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2014 Dallas Cowboys Have The Fourth-Youngest Roster In The NFL

The Cowboys have been steadily trimming the age of their roster over the last few years, so much so that they are now one of the youngest teams in the NFL.

Mike Ehrmann

30 is a dangerous age in the NFL. earlier this year, player agent Jack Bechta pointed out in the National Football Post that teams are more focused on age than ever.

In twenty-even years as an agent I never heard teams talk more about players ages than they do now. If you are on the wrong side of 30, not named Manning, Brady, or Brees, you may as well be ready for a tap on the shoulder any day to be shown the exit.

The Cowboys entered the offseason with plans to get younger as a team, and if you take a look at the last six years, that's exactly what the Cowboys have done. Here's an overview of the greybeards (age 30 or older) on the team in each of the last six seasons who started at least six games:

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Player Age Player Age Player Age Player Age Player Age Player Age
F. Adams 34 J. Kitna 38 K. Kosier 33 T. Romo 32 T. Romo 33 T. Romo 34
K. Brooking 34 K. Brooking 35 T. Newman 33 J. Ratliff 31 J. Hatcher 31 J. Witten 32
M. Colombo 31 M. Colombo 32 K. Coleman 32 J. Hatcher 30 D. Ware 31 A. Spencer 30
L. Davis 31 L. Davis 32 M. Holland 31 N. Livings 30 J. Witten 31 D. Free 30
K. Kosier 31 K. Kosier 32 T. Romo 31 D. Ware 30 D. Ware 32
T. Newman 31 T. Newman 32 A. Elam 30 J. Witten 30 J. Hatcher 32
P. Crayton 30 A. Gurode 31 B. James 30 M. Austin 30
A. Gurode 30 T. Romo 30 J. Ratliff 30
8 8 8 6 4 4

But the Cowboys haven't just made an effort to purge the greybeards from their roster. According to some quick calculations by Jimmy Kempski of following yesterday's league-wide roster cuts, the Cowboys have the fourth-youngest team in the NFL, with an average age of 25.44 for their newly-minted 53-man roster. In that same ranking, the Eagles are 19th, the Redskins are 24th, and the Giants are 31st.

If you want to win in the NFL, you need to go young.

About a month ago, Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News penned an article titled "Cowboys' youth movement should pay off in many ways, but will it happen in 2014?" In that article, Sabin writes that part of the Cowboys drive to get younger were the salary cap issues they ran into with well-compensated contracts for players who had grown long in the tooth. But there are other, more important benefits of assembling a younger team: making the team competitive for an extended period of time.

It’s a sound strategy. In 2011, Seattle was the second-youngest team in the NFL. Two years later, the Seahawks built a championship team whose average age was 25.43, the fourth-lowest in the league. The Cowboys hope they can do the same.

The Cowboys, and even Jerry Jones, know all about the benefits of youth. The Cowboys were the youngest team in the NFL in 1992 when they won their first Super Bowl with Jerry Jones as the owner. Of course, both examples are cherry-picked, because not every young team is gearing up for a championship run. But let's take the 2011 Seahawks and 1992 Cowboys and look at their record before and after those pivotal years:

Benefits of a youth movement
Cowboys Year 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
W/L Record 1-15 7-9 11-5 13-3 12-4 12-4
Seahawks Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
W/L Record 4-12 5-11 7-9 7-9 11-5 13-3

If those two teams are any indication, then building a winning team, specifically a young, winning team, is not easy. And if that is what the Cowboys are doing, then perhaps the last three seasons with 8-8 records were not as bad as they could have been.

In a recent chat with fans, Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin was asked whether he saw anything that made him feel the Cowboys defense could improve. Here's what the often curmudgeonly Gosselin replied:

Gosselin: The only benefit I see is that there could be a lot of new, young players on the field as the season progresses. Hitchens, Mitchell, Lawrence, Dixon. Even Wilcox, Heath and Terrell McClain aren't that old. I'm of the belief if you're going to be bad, be young. They get a chance to develop for your future.

"If you're going to be bad, be young?"

I'll take that.

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