Copyright 2009

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One of the gripes some Bucs fans had with former Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden was that he favored playing veterans over younger players and rookies.

Their wish for the Bucs to get younger appears to have been granted in Tampa Bay.

For starters, Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik are the youngest head coach and general manager in the National Football League at the age of 32 and 37, respectively.

Dominik can't come out and say it publicly, but there is no doubt the Buccaneers are rebuilding their team. Definitively stating this publicly could be a bit deflating to free agents (see Albert Haynesworth) or veteran players like cornerback Ronde Barber, who know time is not on their side in terms of their remaining playing years in the league.

But the actions of Morris and Dominik speak louder than their words. Before the start of free agency, the Bucs released five veteran players – linebackers Derrick Brooks and Cato June, wide receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard and running back Warrick Dunn. With the exception of June, 29, each of those players is over the age of 30. Tampa Bay also opted not to re-sign quarterback Jeff Garcia, who is 39.

The Bucs want to build around their young core of players and add some new ones to the mix through both free agency and the NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay franchised WR Antonio Bryant, traded for TE Kellen Winslow, re-signed QB Luke McCown, WR Michael Clayton, TE Jerramy Stevens, defensive tackle Ryan Sims and safeties Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen, and inked free agent RB Derrick Ward, LBs Angelo Crowell and Niko Koutouvides, and kicker Mike Nugent. Each of these players is under the age of 30.

So, how young is Tampa Bay's current roster?

The average age of the Bucs' current roster is 26.7, which currently ranks as the 15th-oldest in the NFL, ESPN's Mike Sando calculated for with sophisticated software he developed to determine the average age of each NFL team.

While they are near the middle of the league, the Bucs aren't far from being the youngest team in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers currently are the youngest team with the average age of their players being 25.7. The oldest team in the league in terms of average age per player is the New Orleans Saints at 27.8.

But this doesn't tell the whole story of Tampa Bay's youth movement, as each team's current roster has close to 80 players on it, not the 53 mandated by the league for the regular season.

The Bucs are indeed a young team, evidenced by the fact that they have just four players that are 30 years of age or older.

It's early, but has compiled a projected 50-man roster for the 2009 season below. This reporter purposely left three roster spots open since the Bucs own eight selections in the 2009 NFL Draft, and for the sake of getting a true feel for how young the Buccaneers are let's assume three of this year's draft picks will secure active roster spots.

Bucs Projected 50-Man Roster

Luke McCown (27)
Brian Griese (34)
Josh Johnson (22)

Running Back
Earnest Graham (29)
Derrick Ward (28)
Cadillac Williams (26)
Clifton Smith (23)

B.J. Askew (28)
Byron Storer (24)

Wide Receiver
Antonio Bryant (28)
Michael Clayton (26)
Maurice Stovall (24)
Brian Clark (25)
Kelly Campbell (28)

Tight End
Kellen Winslow (25)
Jerramy Stevens (29)
John Gilmore (29)
Alex Smith (26)

Offensive Tackle
Donald Penn (25)
Jeremy Trueblood (25)
James Lee (23)

Offensive Guard
Davin Joseph (25)
Arron Sears (24)
Jeremy Zuttah (22)

Jeff Faine (27)
Sean Mahan (28)

Defensive Tackle
Chris Hovan (30)
Ryan Sims (28)
Dre Moore (23)
Greg Peterson (25)

Defensive End
Gaines Adams (25)
Stylez G. White (29)
Jimmy Wilkerson (28)

Angelo Crowell (27)
Jermaine Phillips (29)
Barrett Ruud (25)
Quincy Black (25)
Geno Hayes (21)
Niko Koutouvides (27)
Adam Hayward (24)

Aqib Talib (23)
Ronde Barber (33)
Elbert Mack (22)
Torrie Cox (28)

Sabby Piscitelli (25)
Tanard Jackson (23)
Will Allen (26)

Mike Nugent (27)

Josh Bidwell (33)

Long Snapper
Andrew Economos (26)

The average age of this projected Bucs 50-man roster is just 26.2 years old. The average age of the offense and defense is 26.1 and 25.9, respectively. The special teams averages out to 28.6, but it could be higher if Matt Bryant, 33, beats out Nugent for the kicking job.

The Bucs will likely make several roster moves between now and the start of training camp in July, but the team will only get younger, evidenced by the fact that draft picks are typically between the ages of 21-23.

That means by the time the 2009 regular season kicks off in September, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will indeed be one of the youngest teams in the NFL, but we won't know if younger means better until the season starts.

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