The 2011 Bengals were one of the NFL’s youngest teams, boasting rookie wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton as the two guys the team would hope to build around in what initially appeared to be a lengthy roster overhaul process. But as Green, Dalton and their teammates defied expectations, the Bengals quickly emerged as a sneaky contender, accumulating a 9-7 record before losing to the Texans in the first round of the playoffs.
Five years later, however, Cincinnati is no longer a young team. Green, Dalton, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Clint Boling are all hitting their prime, while Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, George Iloka and others are quickly approaching the peak of their respective careers. That, coupled with veterans like Andrew Whitworth, Adam Jones, Kevin Huber and Mike Nugent getting up there in age, has contributed to the Bengals becoming one of the 10 oldest teams in the NFL, in terms of average age.
As the Philly Voice points out, Cincinnati’s team has gotten older, on average, on a yearly basis since 2012, excluding in 2014, when the team’s average age remained the same from 2013. That’s not to say the Bengals’ being old is an indicator of a fading championship window or a roster that is aging out — Cincinnati still has plenty of relatively young talents, including guys like Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Tyler Eifert, and Vontaze Burfict.
That being said, it’s time for the young guys on the Bengals’ roster to start stepping up. The wideouts behind Green and Brandon LaFell will have opportunities to prove themselves on the field, while guys like DeShawn Williams and Will Clarke could get opportunities for snaps on the defensive line. Barring an injury setback, former first-round corner Darqueze Dennard should be the Bengals’ starting nickel corner early in the season, and another former first-rounder, Cedric Ogbuehi, will likely start at right tackle.
While considering all of this, keep in mind that the average age gap from the oldest roster (the Falcons) to the youngest roster (the Rams) is just 2.08 years. And, the Bengals are only .43 years older now than they were in 2011.
Despite what Anthony Munoz might say, the Bengals’ championship window is still wide open. Andy Dalton will turn 29 this season, so Cincinnati should have plenty of time with its franchise passer. The roster, however, simply isn’t as young as it used to be. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as the Bengals’ most vocal critics have cited a lack of maturity and composure as one of the team’s most fatal flaws. Either way, the Bengals’ age really shouldn’t play that big of a factor, as there isn’t a direct correlation between the average age of a roster and its ability to win a Super Bowl.