Jon Gruden had a clear roster-building strategy going into the 2018 season with the Oakland Raiders, and that was to fill the roster with cheap veterans who would help him and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther implement their systems. This resulted in the Raiders having the oldest 53-man roster in the NFL, That’s not a long-term strategy and never was designed to be, and it was been totally turned upside-down this year as the current Raiders roster is incredibly young, with an average age of 25.35 years (yes, I did this math myself thank you very much).
For reference, the youngest team in the NFL last season after the 53-man cuts was the Cincinnati Bengals, who were on average 25.2 years old, and the Browns came in second with an average age of 25.3 years old, identical to the Raiders’ current 90-man roster. The Raiders’ average age in 2018 was 27.4, which was nearly six months older on average than the 31st oldest team, the Atlanta Falcons whose average age was 26.9.
Oakland also had the oldest team in 2014, with a veteran lineup surrounding rookies Derek Carr and Khalil Mack for an average age of 27 even, but made the playoffs in 2016 with the 13th-youngest roster of 26 years even on average.
The Raiders are mostly made up currently of players 27 years old and younger, and have only six players over the age of 29 on their roster, one of whom is the long snapper, Andrew DePaola, and none of whom are over the age of 31. Contrast this to last season when the opening week roster included aged veterans Donald Penn, Reggie Nelson, Jordy Nelson, Marshawn Lynch and several other players who were long in the tooth. The only Raiders over the age of 29 who are expected to be major contributors this season are Doug Martin and Antonio Brown, both of whom are 30 years old. Rookies Josh Jacobs and Maxx Crosby are still 21, while Johnathan Abram and Clelin Ferrell are 22. All four are expected to see plenty of playing time and be major factors in 2019.
The roster won’t stay this young after cutdown day to the 53-man roster. Several of the rookies and players under 23 years old won’t make it or will be placed on the practice squad, and that will skew the average a bit higher. But some of the older players might not make it either, and it’s unlikely, mathematically speaking, that the average age of the Raiders will be over 26. That will still make them one of the youngest teams in the league and on paper one of the teams most set up for long-term success.