Bigger Faster Stronger Louder Younger

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Don't trust anyone over the age of thirty, right? Well, besides Jon Ryan.

YOU: I'll take 'World Champion Seattle Seahawks' for $800, Alex.

TREBEK: The answer there: Jon Ryan, Paul McQuistan, Heath Farwell, Michael Robinson, Tarvaris Jackson.

YOU: Who are the members of underground punk band Ginger Pride?

TREBEK: I'm sorry, that is incorrect and also insensitive. Maybe dumb too. Next... er... Sean?

CONNERY: Professional football players your mother has b--

TREBEK: --Oh I'm afraid the judges just informed me that field_gulls_braintrust buzzed in first

field_gulls_braintrust: Who are the only Seahawks at least 30 years of age? Too easy. I'll take 'Super Bowl XLVIII Scoring Plays' for $1000, Alex. And I've already hit the buzzer.

If you were smart, you skipped right past that tomfoolery and arrived at the actual post which begins presently

As usual, Alex Trebek is right. Just five guys over age 30 remain with the Hawks, as of March 17. Technically, McQ and Real Rob aren't on the roster, as free agents, but with their future up in the air, I'll leave them in. For now. So it's entirely possible that Seattle will begin the 2014 season with just two thirty-year-olds on the team. One of them being the punter.

Thirty years of age. That's a pretty arbitrary number. Round, but arbitrary. Let's transcend cultural norms and venture one year deeper.

If you peel one more layer off the team onion, you find two guys, both 29: Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel. Both of those key starters have two years left on their deals. If it becomes necessary to cut one or both of them, the Hawks are on the hook for 5.7 million to Mebane and 3.625 million to McDaniel for 2015, with total dead money of only 825,000, according to overthecap.com. As much as I love love love Bane, he's not a lock to still be here in his thirties.

Fine, we can go 28 deep, just to see what happens.

Michael Bennett, Kellen Davis, Steven Hauschka and Zach Miller are the only guys that happen at level 28. At the time of this writing, three of them look likely to be back in uniform this fall; let's have a moment of silence for Kellen Davis yeah let's not do that.

So, according to something called "linear time," the rest of the roster is 27 or younger.

Is that good? The table below provides a comparison with relevant teams.

'14 Rams '14 Hawks '14 Broncos '14 Niners '06 Hawks '14 Cardinals '09 Hawks
Players age 30+ 3 5* 6 9 12 13 14
Players age 29 2 2 2 4 5 3 7
Players age 28 5 4 4 4 5 8 4
Total 10 11 12 17 22 24 25

*includes the aforementioned McQuistan and Robinson.

If you're aiming to be younger than your rivals, then yes, that's good, but you're only keeping pace with the Rams, as far as the raw number of 28+ players.

Besides, we're only getting half the story, from that general of a table. Not all young and old players are created equal -- some are special-teamers, some are Peyton Manning. How about we check out last season's snap counts for the players age 30 or above.

Rams Hawks Broncos Niners Cardinals
Snap counts, old men only 1442 1726 4617 5170 8473

Okay, there's some more separation. Still the Rams and Hawks on top. Look at those Cardinals. More on them in a few moments.

Weighted average age

Those Rams are so young. Annoyingly young. Only one player over 30, starting center Scott Wells, receives full-time snaps. Both Longs are 28, which makes them seasoned veterans on a very green Rams team.

In fact, the Rams are the league's youngest team, by something called AV-weighted age. At the direction of one Danny Kelly, I traveled to www.footballperspective.com, where I found the stat, which weights each player's value heavier as it calculates a roster's average age. In other words, more important players count more heavily in the average. Check it out for yourself here, but I'm going to reprint their most recent data below, before you even finish this paragra

Team (NFL rank)

1 = youngest

AV-weighted age

Offense rank

1 = youngest

Defense rank

1 = youngest

St. Louis (1) 25.5 3 1
Seattle (2) 26.0 1 10
Denver (27) 27.7 29 17
San Francisco (31) 28.3 30 28
Arizona (32) 28.3 27 29

How interesting that by this measure, two NFC West teams are the league's two youngest, and two NFC West teams are also the league's oldest.

The Niners might be starting a 26-year-old at QB, but stars like Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, Ahmad Brooks and Justin Smith all are in their thirties. Seattle has no major stars (sorry again Bane) above age 28.

The Cardinals are not set up for the long haul. It's not just that their three specialists are 37, 35 and 35. Even excluding those players, they still lead the division in old guys. And in snaps taken by old guys. Carson Palmer's 34; Larry Fitzgerald's 30; Darnell Dockett's 32; good thing, then, that they added 35-year-old John Abraham this offseason. Their stout defense features five guys 30 or older. If they even have a contention window, how long can they keep it open?

Won't Somebody Please Think of the Broncos?

I was surprised. originally, to see how favorably the Broncos compared to the Hawks in the first table, which even includes DeMarcus Ware. But then, the rest of the data really ominoused that vibe. But there's plenty of talent in Denver, especially with Von Miller coming back and Talib being added. Should the football gods be merciful enough to grant Peyton Manning another full season of health, there's no reason the Broncos can't repeat last year's performance and clothe another African village.

Caveats and conclusions and stuff

Younger might not always be better, right?

In fact, a young roster comes with its own set of challenges. Not just lack of experience. No, win too much and other teams will poach your non-core players in their prime. Tate, Thurmond, McDaniel. (EDIT: that's McDonald. Dang you Pete.)

Hit on too many mid-round or late-round draft picks, and suddenly you find yourself having to give your top stars tenfold or twentyfold raises. Everyone knows who I'm talking about here.

But Schneider likes it that way: "We want this to be a consistent championship-caliber team ... where there's a solid base and we have to make tough decisions every year."

They're making the tough decisions -- so far. What'll be really interesting is how the FO tackles aging home-grown superstars like Sherman and Thomas, assuming both players and both executives are still here in a half-decade. We'll get a test case with these guys, first:

Player Turns 28 on
Max Unger April 14, 2014
Marshawn Lynch April 22, 2014
Russell Okung October 7, 2015
Bruce Irvin November 1, 2015

It's fair to expect Schneider and Carroll to obsessively continue keeping the roster young. After all, what they're avoiding is a confluence of decisions. By eliminating non-essential personnel over 27, they're trying to bypass the fork in the roster road, where ten talented guys are about 30, all at once, and you have to win right away or blow it all up. Let other teams deal with that headache. For our part, to recycle a phrase trademarked by the Field Gulls braintrust, we'll just go ahead and Win Forever Young.

P.S.

Links / Resources

www.winforever.com

http://www.footballperspective.com/2013-av-adjusted-team-age/

http://www.fieldgulls.com/seahawks-analysis/2014/2/12/5405052/seahawks-pete-carroll-win-forever-john-schneider-forever-young

www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/snapcounts

www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sea

www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/celebrity-jeopardy/n11253

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