A lot was made about the off-season acquisitions that Jon Gruden made after taking over control of the team. Specifically there was a lot of chatter about the average age of the players that were brought in. Time and time again Gruden and company brought in veterans for his squad, much to the chagrin of the media and some fans.
The result of the veteran shopping spree was the Oakland Raiders going from being the 19th oldest team in the league to the 32nd oldest team with an average age of 27.4 years old. That is a full half year older average than even the Falcons who were rated as the 31st oldest team, and a staggering 2.18 year average age difference from the Cincinnati Bengals who field the youngest team with a 25.2 year old average.
The author of these ratings knows what you are likely thinking right now, 2.18 years isn’t really that big of a difference right? PhillyVoice’s Jimmy Kempski is prepared for your question if so and made sure to address the obvious grievance about his rating.
“2.18 years on average * 53 players = A difference of about 116 total years between the Bengals and Raiders.
“In other words, if you took the 23 oldest Raiders and shaved 5 years off each of their ages, their roster still wouldn’t be as young as the Bengals’ roster.”
When he puts it that way it’s easy to see the difference really is a monumental difference then, because 5 years in the NFL is an eternity. When Gruden set out to collect his veteran additions, it was seen as a move to try to set up the Raiders for a win now mentality. That’s all well and good, but the Khalil Mack trade was the opposite of that and seems more to have announced the Raiders will be rebuilding instead.
The oddity of those conflicting messages was not lost on Sirius XM radio and The Athletic’s Ross Tucker.
Raiders are oldest team in NFL yet just made a move that clearly shows their players they aren't really trying to win this year.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) September 2, 2018
Is this Bizarro World? https://t.co/D5l1mnicGH
He’s not wrong with his “bizarro world” assessment here, they truly are two completely opposite messages being put out. Gruden just sold the farm to build his house, announcing that the draft picks and financial freedom was better for his team than one of the dominant defensive players of this generation. That is a rebuilding move through and through on a team full of players at the end of their careers who want to win now not later.
It’s an interesting paradox if nothing else anyway. Though the Mack trade clearly weakens the Raiders for this season, it doesn’t mean they can’t be competitive anyway though. It just got a lot harder, especially when talking about a team that is far and away the oldest in the league.
Maybe the average age of the team will actually help them overcome the Mack trade and get some wins despite losing their best player though. The oldest team in the league also means they are the most experienced team in the NFL, so most of these guys have seen the ugly business side before and many were victims of it already themselves.
That experience will help the young talent on the team get used to the post Mack era quicker. It’s a hard lesson to learn but it will help having the veterans to ease the transition.
It may be bizarre seeing two drastically different messages about their team, but these players have real games that they are about to start playing. Khalil Mack is a great player, but he is just one guy on a 53 player team. I’m still excited to see what this veteran team is capable of even in a post Mack world. I don’t know if they are rebuilding or ready to win now, but I do now a team averaging 27.4 years old isn’t going to lay down in front of adversity. Win or lose, I still can’t wait to see what these veterans have to offer starting a week from Monday night against the Rams.