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The Youth Have Gone Wild in the NFL—and the Veterans Asked for It

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bill-swift - October 6, 2012

A youth movement has literally taken over the NFL over the last couple years, and will likely continue to push older players out thanks to the ever present supply of young players coming out of college every year.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the quarterback position. Last season the league had five rookie quarterbacks start at some point; this year there were five rookie starters on opening weekend. Some would argue that it's out of necessity; these teams are doing so because they needed a new quarterback.

It sure doesn't hurt that it is actually cheaper for teams to sign and play these youngsters rather than go with older, more experienced and more expensive talent.

Remember back when the players were arguing over the collective bargaining agreement last summer? Recall that one of the few things that were agreed on rather easily was the rookie wage scale? It was an easy sell to the veterans. Not paying the rookies meant there was more to pay them.

So let's think about that for a moment. True, guys that have been around like Steven Jackson have proven that they are worth their weight in gold. It is likely why Jackson wanted to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.

However, he'll be 30 before the season starts next year; the typical year associated with the downfall of a running back. Who is going to want to pay a running back on the downside of his career with injury concerns?

Training methods are improving every year making it easier and easier for someone with enough dedication to become just as much of a beast as Jackson was coming out of college. It makes sense to go with the younger, cheaper version.

Take the plight of the veteran free agent wide receivers currently on the market, namely Terrell Owens (38), Plaxico Burress (35), and Chad Johnson (34). Owens was cut after a poor showing in Seattle; Johnson after his legal issues and due to poor play; Burress has had some workouts, but no bites.

With Santonio Holmes out for the season the need for a No.1 receiver in New York took on a look of desperation. When asked about Plaxico Burress head coach Rex Ryan responded with:

"Plaxico, I have a great deal of respect for and obviously…We're trying to look for guys maybe a little younger and with a little more speed…"

How else can you explain signing a guy that has called your team over-hyped (Jason Hill)  instead of one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game (i.e. Terrell Owens)?

For the fans this could be a very good thing. The young guys will likely play with a little more passion. They are still idealistic enough to appreciate playing a game for a living and will be trying to prove themselves (for a future payday).

So while careers may get shorter, the game could actually get much more entertaining!

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