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Bills have ninth oldest roster in NFL; Tampa Bay is the oldest
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Bills have ninth oldest roster in NFL; Tampa Bay is the oldest

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Emmanuel Sanders

At age 34, Emmanuel Sanders is the oldest player on the Bills' roster.

The Buffalo Bills have the ninth oldest roster in the NFL to open the regular season.

Teams that view themselves as contenders tend to be on the older end of the roster age spectrum. Teams that are rebuilding usually are among the youngest.

The Bills’ average age is 26.4 years, according to a Buffalo News survey of the opening-day rosters of the 32 NFL teams. That’s only slightly higher than the league average of 26.06 years.

The oldest team in the NFL? It’s no surprise. Defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, led by the oldest player in the NFL – 44-year-old Tom Brady – tops the league at 27.16 years.

Houston, a rebuilding team that has filled out its roster with some older players in the offseason, ranks second oldest. Arizona is third oldest, followed by New England, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore and Tennessee.

The youngest rosters belong to Detroit (25.13), the New York Jets (25.16) and Carolina (25.2).

Are the Bills an old roster? It depends on the perspective.

If one considers the age of the most important player on the team – the quarterback – the Bills are young. Josh Allen is 25. He’s the 12th youngest starting QB in the league. There were 12 starting QBs age 30 and older on opening day.

“I think a lot of our core players are young,” said General Manager Brandon Beane after the final roster cuts were made. “I think we saved a couple vets on the D-line. And then we've got some vets at safety, but I think we're obviously young at linebacker, and most of our D line is fairly young.

“Stefon Diggs had a career year last year, Cole Beasley had a career year, Josh Allen had a career year,” Beane said. “Until you start to see them plateau and go that way, you're going to assume that they're going to at least get a little bit better. And so we feel good about our core. And I'd say overall, I don't feel like most of the core guys that we built this around, have plateaued or are sure not heading south.”

Indeed, the players who the Bills hope will form the core of the defense for many years are young. The best player on defense, cornerback Tre’Davious White, still is just 26. So is Matt Milano. Tremaine Edmunds is 23. The Bills hope Ed Oliver (23) and Greg Rousseau (21) will become star players.

Even though Edmunds is in his fourth NFL season, he's still the sixth youngest player on the active roster.

The Bills have four 30-something players whose contracts expire after this season. They are defensive ends Jerry Hughes (33) and Mario Addison (34), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (34) and running back Taiwan Jones (33).

The other players age 30 or older are Beasley (32), Star Lotulelei (31), Micah Hyde (30), Jordan Poyer (30) and A.J. Klein (30).

That’s nine players age 30 or older.


NFL's oldest rosters 2021
TeamAvg. age
Buccaneers27.1
Texans27.09
Cardinals27.03
Patriots26.94
Bears26.9

Tampa Bay and Arizona each lead the league with 16 players 30 or older. Baltimore and San Francisco have 13 apiece.

There are 259 players age 30 or older in the NFL, an average of eight per team. The NFL has gotten younger, partly due to economics (older players are more expensive). In 2006, there were 346 players age 30 or older.

Beane has gradually bolstered the roster with his own draft picks over the past four seasons.

The Bills have 24 of their own draft picks on the roster, tied for 17th most. The NFL average is 25.

In the first season of the Beane and Sean McDermott regime (2017), the Bills were last in the NFL with only 16 of their own draft choices on the team.

The teams with the highest number of their own drafted players on the roster are Minnesota (39), Dallas (37) and Baltimore (36).

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Bills/NFL writer

Gaughan's insight is featured in the "PlayAction" video series, providing analysis to get Bills fans ready for the next game. He is past president of the Pro Football Writers of America and served as a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector for 12 years.

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