Are Raiders really the NFL's oldest team? What does it mean?

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Raiders began signing free agents this off-season, those acquisitions have been criticized for being among the over 30 crowd. Most recently ESPN NFL put out this stat:

This got me thinking. First of all, is it true? And if it is true, what does it really mean?

To answer the first question of whether it's true the answer is... sort of. Yes, they lead the NFL in players over thirty. But they aren't alone. The Bears also have 13 players 30 years of age or older. Either ESPN missed something or they felt no need to mention it. Even though they mentioned three teams tied for the fewest.

The Bears number actually rises to 14 players 30-years or older next month when Jordan Palmer turns 30. Past that the Bears currently have 9 players who are 29 years of age. The Raiders have just 4. So, technically speaking it's the Bears who lead the league in over the hill gang.

Since there are a lot of ages beyond 30, let's look at it by average age of players over 30. Both teams have kickers over 30 but for the sake of this exercise, we'll take them out of the equation because the age of a kicker doesn't mean a whole lot. When figuring up that number, the Bears average over 30 is 31.7. The Raiders average of players over 30 is 31.5. The Raiders are still younger by that measurement. And if you add in the Bears' multitude players on the cusp of 30, the disparity grows even more.

After the Bears and Raiders, the Saints and 49ers have 11 players over the age of 30. Then the Steelers Chargers, Giants, and Cardinals are tied with 10.

In turn, the teams with the fewest players over thirty were not what ESPN said they were according to each team's official roster or the roster on NFL.com. According to those rosters, the Rams have the fewest players over 30 with 2. Then the Seahawks with 3. After that it's a five-way tie with 4 players 30 or older between the Bills, Texans, Jaguars, Chiefs, and Buccaneers.

So, what does all this mean? Hard to say, exactly.

As Raiders fans know, the last time this team was considered this old, they were in the Super Bowl. They did it with the likes of over 30-year-old players such as NFL MVP Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Charlie Garner, Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett, Lincoln Kennedy, and Rod Woodson - all of whom played key roles in the Raiders' ascension.

As far as the other teams listed here, the Bears are widely considered a Super Bowl contender this year. It's the reason Lamarr Houston opted to go there along with Jared Allen - who is also part of the over 30 crowd. But I guess a team that has eight wins over the past two seasons is more open for criticism than a team which has 18 wins during that same time period.

The Saints and 49ers who both have 11 players over 30 were both playoff teams last year. And the 49ers did it with current Raiders over 30-year-old corner, Carlos Rogers on the team. The Saints just added soon-to-be 36-year-old cornerback Champ Bailey to the roster.

Of the teams with the fewest players over 30, there is the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, the playoff team Chiefs, and four of the worst teams in the NFL - the Texans, Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Bills. You could say that's all over the map.

To recap, the Raiders are not the oldest team in the NFL. It's close, but technically not the case. And what it means is unclear. Teams need veterans, especially a rebuilding team like the Raiders. With the conflicting evidence as to the result of having double digit over 30 players on a team, the importance of such a stat may just be a bit overblown.

Even so, the key for this Raiders team will be to draft replacements for most of these over 30 players either this season or next. Until that happens, they will be wide open for criticisms about their AARP status.

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