Garrett has re-shaped Cowboys' roster

IRVING, Texas -- The NFL is a young man's game because of the rigors associated with a 16-game schedule.

Old players get hurt more often and take longer to recover, which is why you don't want a bunch of 30-year-olds on the roster.

Jason Garrett has always understood that, which is why one of his top priorities when he became the Dallas Cowboys' head coach was to re-make the roster with younger players.

Mission accomplished.

"It's a young football team," Garrett said. "We have a lot of guys who were thrust into roles for a lot of different reasons and they had to grow up fast.

"We're building this the right way," Garrett said. "There's a lot to be proud of about this football team this year, but we didn't accomplish our goals."

At the end of the 2010 season, the Cowboys had 15 players 28 or older on their roster, including seven who were 30 or older. Then, Doug Free was the only starting lineman under 30.

At the end of the 2014 season, the Cowboys had just six players who were 28 or older on the roster. These days, Free is the only offensive line starter who's 30.

None of the others -- Tyron Smith (24), Ronald Leary (25), Travis Frederick (23) and Zack Martin (24) -- are older than 25.

The Cowboys' average age is 25.4 with 2.9 years of experience, but they still won 12 games and the NFC East title. The future looks good.

"We went through a phase when we were transitioning our team from a lot of older players on our team to some younger players," Garrett said. "We've done that over the course of three or four years to go from one of the older teams to one of the younger teams.

"I certainly think this team maximized itself. But our goals are higher than what we accomplished this year. We have higher aspirations and we have to be bound and determined to re-focus and get back to work, so we can achieve our ultimate goal."