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Does age matter in the NFL?

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Is there a right mix of youth and experience to build a successful NFL team?

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

With free agency and the draft in the books, roster construction is nearly complete for the NFL's 32 teams. Building a team is no easy task in the NFL, where you have to balance the restrictions of the salary cap with current positional needs while also making moves for the future. Coaches and front office personnel must answer a difficult question: What is the right mix of youth and experience needed to field a successful NFL team?

In trying to figure out what formula works best in today's NFL, Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice compiled the average age of the projected offensive starters for all 32 teams. He used a lineup of one quarterback, one running back, three wide receivers, one tight end and five offensive linemen.

It turns out that there is really no definitive answer to the question of whether age matters in building an NFL team, or at least on the offensive side of the ball, as the data below suggests.

The two teams with the oldest projected offensive starters (Broncos, Patriots) are probably the two of the NFL's best teams, but you'll also find a couple of Super Bowl hopefuls (Packers, Seahawks) at the bottom of the list among the youngest teams in the league. And right in the middle of the pack you have another consensus top-five team (Colts), sandwiched between a couple likely playoff-bound squads (Ravens, Cardinals).

You also have some underachieving franchises that skew old (Browns, Jets) and other perennial last-place finishers that are on the youthful side (Buccaneers, Titans, Jaguars). Is there a reason to be optimistic if you're a fan of one of those struggling younger teams? What if your team is both old and bad?

For the most part, it's hard to draw any conclusions when the data is averaged across the entire offense. Kempski also broke down the age rankings by position and found a few notable trends. The better quarterbacks and offensive line groups tended to be older, while the most productive running backs and wide receivers were on the younger side. So in the end, the best combination could include veteran players at certain positions, and younger players at skill positions that emphasize speed.

But mostly, what this probably means is that there is no right way to build an NFL roster. Old or young, what matters most is whether you have good players, good coaching, good health and a little luck.

Here is the full list of all 32 NFL teams' projected offensive starters ranked by average age, per the Philly Voice:

Rank

Team

Age

1

Broncos

29

2

Patriots

28.6

3

Browns

28.2

4

Saints

28

5

Bears

27.7

6

Chargers

27.6

7

Cowboys

27.4

8

Eagles

27.1

9

Jets

27.1

10

Ravens

27

11

Washington

26.9

12

Colts

26.9

13

Cardinals

26.9

14

Chiefs

26.9

15

Texans

26.8

16

Falcons

26.7

17

49ers

26.6

18

Bills

26.5

19

Steelers

26.5

20

Giants

26.4

21

Panthers

26.3

22

Raiders

26

23

Vikings

26

24

Lions

26

25

Packers

25.8

26

Bengals

25.7

27

Buccaneers

25.7

28

Seahawks

25.7

29

Dolphins

25.2

30

Titans

24.8

31

Rams

24.2

32

Jaguars

23.9