The Patriots are scheduled to meet with 29-year-old free-agent Josh Reed today, and while Reed would potentially add another layer of short- and long-term security at receiver, he wouldn't address a different team need: Youth on offense.
The Patriots currently have the oldest offensive personnel in the NFL, with an average age of 27.9.
One would expect the Patriots to be near the older side of the NFL offensive ledger with key players like quarterback Tom Brady (32) and receiver Randy Moss (33) leading the way, and two running backs over 30 in Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor.
Bill Belichick has never been afraid of age, although he's also cognizant of how a roster must be layered with younger players working the way up the pipeline. With that in mind, adding productive youth on offense figures to be one of the team's offseason priorities.
Naturally, the best way to do that is through the draft.
On the flip side, the Patriots' defense is currently the 21st oldest unit in the NFL, with an average age of 26. That's a big change from a few years back when the club fielded the league's oldest unit.
Age statistics are always fluid, and at this time of year they also take into account players who won't be on the roster come the regular season. Still, they provide a general barometer as to the makeup of a team, and today's snapshot indicates that the Patriots figure to be focusing more on quality youth this offseason.