Under Raheem Morris, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up the title “Youngry” thanks to their young roster full of marginal players who would occasionally play over their heads. At this point, “Youngry” seems like a distant memory of a time most Buccaneer fans would rather forget, but the Buccaneers’ current roster isn’t much different from how it was a few years ago.
ESPN.com’s Mike Sando did the hard work of going through NFL rosters, and ranked them by the average age of the starters on offense and defense. And at a quick glance, one would assume the Buccaneers have a pretty young roster.
Gary Gibson is 31, and Donald Penn joins Vincent Jackson as the only non-special teams players that are 30 years old. Everyone else on the roster is 29 or younger, with a ton of players at 23 and 24 years old. Because of this, the Buccaneers rank 23rd in starter’s age overall in the NFL, and 27th on defense specifically. But this group of younger players does not lack in experience.
Josh Freeman is the perfect example, as the 25 year-old is entering his fifth season in the NFL. He has experienced a winning season, and multiple losing seasons, and is reaching the point where he can say he has “seen it all” in the NFL. Similarly experienced is Jonathan Casillas, as he is only 25 and has the same years of experience as Freeman.
Furthermore, the Buccaneers have plenty of players in the prime of their careers. Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis are both All-Pro caliber players who are in the sweet spot for athletes, both short of 30 and both entering their 7th seasons in the NFL. Considering that they’re both a part of a defense that ranks near the bottom in average age of starters, they’ll be called upon as leaders, and they have the skill and confidence to lead by example.
New additions like Derek Landri and Brian Leonard are veterans who will play key roles in the rotation at their respective positions. Landri is one of the older players on the team, and has experience filling in on the defensive line and making a big impact. Leonard has been a career backup, filling an unheralded role on offense of providing reliable support for the rushing game when called upon, and contributing as a pass catcher as well.
The Buccaneers may not have savvy veterans like Tony Gonzalez, Drew Brees, or Steve Smith on their roster, but when opening day rolls around, the Bucs will have a young roster with potential to exceed expectations. But potential is a dangerous thing in the NFL, and Greg Schiano and his staff will have to work hard to get the most out of this young squad of Buccaneers.