As the Ravens look for ways to improve this offseason, don't expect the front office to slash salaries and cut veteran players all in the name of getting younger.
Just like every season, General Manager Ozzie Newsome will take a close look at the salary cap to determine where he can create room by parting ways with expensive veterans. But those moves have more to do with whether the contract matches the expected production, not whether a player's age brings down the team's average.
The topic came up during Tuesday's season-review press conference when Owner Steve Bisciotti was asked if he* *thinks the Ravens need to get younger.
"I just don't like that age question," Bisciotti said. "I don't see age; I see accomplishments."
The Ravens will likely end up parting ways with veteran players this offseason – some reporters have speculated that outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, safety Kendrick Lewis and center Jeremy Zuttah could become salary-cap casualties – but Bisciotti stressed that those decisions are based on ability, not age.
"Certainly, we're just as likely to move on from a 24-year-old as we are from Dumervil based on our assessment of their capability," Bisciotti said.
This isn't the first time Bisciotti has been asked about his team's age, and he reminded reporters of getting asked a very similar question before winning Super Bowl XLVII.
"Somebody made that exact question to me in our Super Bowl year," Bisciotti said. "Ray [Lewis] was 36, I think, and Ed [Reed] was 33, and I said, 'If I replace those two with 22-year-olds, that would pick up 20-something years. Divided by 11 players on defense, and all of a sudden our defense would have gone from one of the oldest to one of the youngest. So, if anybody is in the mood to let Ray and Ed go, then we can become the youngest defense in the league.'"
Bisciotti's point was also pertinent to last year's Ravens team.
In an annual breakdown by Philly Voice of the oldest teams in the league, the Ravens had an average age of 26.43 years old, ranking No. 27 in the NFL. Some of the Ravens' most productive players, like wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (37) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (34), also happened to be the oldest.
The Ravens could have made up some ground on their average age by cutting Smith or Suggs, but that would have resulted in significant losses on both sides of the ball. Smith led all Ravens receivers in touchdowns (five) and was second in receiving yards (799). Suggs led the defense in sacks (eight).
"I just don't know how valuable that is to focus on [age]," Bisciotti said. "To me, it's production."
A team's age also isn't any kind of indicator about how a team will perform.
The Atlanta Falcons were the oldest team in the league, and they won the NFC South, earning a No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The two youngest teams, the Cleveland Browns and L.A. Rams, both finished well out of the playoff race.
"I just don't like that age question," Bisciotti said. "I don't think it matters."