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What the Eagles' moves so far tell us about Howie Roseman's offseason gameplan

Building up a younger roster has been a major focus for the Eagles as they prepare for the 2024-25 season.

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If you were still watching the Eagles at the end of last season, you saw a team that looked old.

Slow. Cumbersome. Tired. Sluggish. Languid.

And definitely old.

We all saw it. And Howie Roseman certainly saw it because a big focus of the offseason so far has been to construct a younger roster.

Now, younger doesn’t necessarily mean better. It’s not like the Eagles wanted 36-year-old Jason Kelce and 33-year-old Fletcher Cox to retire. But in the big picture, an older team generally means a worse team. Players with decreasing skill levels. Players losing a step or two of speed. Players with more injuries. Players desperately trying to hang on for a few more paychecks.

Add it all up and you get what we saw from the Eagles the last two months of the season. An aging roster wasn’t the Eagles’ only problem. They had plenty of young players who were struggling at the end of the season, too. But it was pretty clear by the time the season mercifully ended in Tampa that the Eagles had to get younger in 2024.

A lot younger.

And so far they have.

According to figures on Spotrac, the Eagles last year had the 12th-oldest roster in the NFL, and they currently have the 6th-youngest.

Twenty-three position players 27 or older got on the field for the Eagles last year and through either retirements, trades, releases and free agency, 18 of the 27 are no longer on the roster. 

Among those departed older veterans are 14 players – eight on defense – who started a combined 94 games.

And of the 11 free agents the Eagles added, only DeVante Parker (31) is older than 28. Will Grier – who probably won’t make the team – and Owen Burks, who’s also not a roster lock, are 28. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Matt Hennessy, Devin White and Parris Campbell are 26, Bryce Huff 25 and P.J. Mustipher 24

The Eagles used 11 position players in their 30s last year and seven are gone. Of the 17-oldest players the Eagles used in the playoff loss to the Bucs, only six remain. And another was released and re-signed.

Most of the change has occurred on defense, where likely changes are Jalen Carter (25) replacing Cox (33), Gardner-Johnson (26) replacing Kevin Byard (31), Devin White (26) replacing Zach Cunningham (29), Bryce Huff (26) replacing Haason Reddick (30) and Nakobe Dean (23) replacing Nicholas Morrow (29).  

That’s a lot.

Just on defense, the Eagles’ 11 projected starters as of now will have an average age of 25.4 (using opening-day ages). Last year, the 11 starters who played the most at each position averaged 28.8 years old. 

That’s an average of nearly 3 ½ years younger per position on opening-day 2024 vs. opening-day 2023. And if any draft picks start, that disparity could be even greater.

(These figures project Kelee Ringo starting in place of James Bradberry just because I simply don’t believe the Eagles really intend to keep Bradberry around and if they do I refuse to believe he’ll be starting.)

Six Eagles in their 30s started at least 10 games last year, the most since 1994, when an astounding 10 did (Dave Alexander, Mark Bavaro, Randall Cunningham, Byron Evans, William Fuller, William Perry, Broderick Thompson, Greg Townsend, Herschel Walker, Mike Zordich). 

Maybe it’s a coincidence the 1994 team fell apart late in the season in similar fashion to the 2023 team, losing its last seven games after a 7-2 start.

There won’t be wholesale changes on offense this offseason, and while obviously the Eagles will be much younger at center whoever starts there, they sure won’t be better there. Saquon Barkley is two years older than D’Andre Swift. 

As of now, the only roster locks in their 30s are Brandon Graham (36), Darius Slay (33), Lane Johnson (33) and long snapper Rick Lovato (31). DeVante Parker is 31 and Bradberry 30, although neither is hardly a lock to be on the final roster. Offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark, who’s also 30, finished last year on the practice squad and signed a futures contract after the season but isn’t technically on the roster and almost certainly won’t be.

Getting too old wasn’t the Eagles’ only problem last year and it wasn’t even their biggest problem.

But Roseman’s focus on youth so far this offseason is notable. It's not a coincidence. And the more 2024 draft picks make the roster, the younger the Eagles will be.

More than anything, the Eagles needed more players who could run and catch and block and tackle. And it’s a fact of the NFL that guys in their 20s more often than not can do those things better than guys in their 30s.

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