Walking the fine line: Jets hope to get younger without sacrificing wins

Todd Bowles stated the obvious Wednesday, saying the New York Jets are "an older team." He indicated the goal is to get younger at almost every position, a common refrain among coaches. I mean, when was the last time you heard a coach say, "We need to add some age to our lineup?"

Integrating young players can be tricky, especially when the team is in a win-now mode. Such is the case with the Jets, who, after missing the playoffs with a 10-6 record, can't possibly be thinking about anything other than chasing a title in 2016.

Let's take a closer look at roster, looking for places where they can get younger:

Quarterback: Not here -- unless they decide to part ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick (33), which won't happen. The backups, Geno Smith (25) and Bryce Petty (24), are still young players.

Running back: There are a few moving parts, as their top three backs appear headed to free agency. Look for them to sign a couple of veterans and add a back in the draft, which I guess would satisfy the mandate to get younger. They need fresh legs in the running-back pipeline.

Wide receiver: Brandon Marshall turns 32 next month, but he was the team MVP so he's not going anywhere. At 28, Eric Decker is in his prime. They have an ascending player in Quincy Enunwa (23), but they could probably use another like him. The wild card is Devin Smith (23), whose rookie year was a washout because of injuries.

Tight end: There's youth, with Jace Amaro (23) and Zach Sudfeld (26), but they're both coming off major injuries. This is a position where the Jets could use an older, established player.

Offensive line: Ding, ding, ding. This is the oldest position group on the team, with three starters in their 30s -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Breno Giacomini. This will be a priority area in the draft as the Jets attempt to find an heir apparent for Ferguson and Mangold. Brent Qvale is viewed as a possible replacement for Giacomini. Part of the problem is they've drafted six linemen in the last four years and haven't hit on any of them -- unless you count Brian Winters. Obviously, pending free agent Willie Colon (32) doesn't fit the youth movement. He likely will retire.

Defensive line: Age isn't the issue, it's being able to keep a young, talented group together.

Linebacker: This is where they could really use an infusion of youth. They're locked in with David Harris (32), but the three spots around him are up in the air. Pending free agent Calvin Pace (35) wants to play another year, but he's a backburner option for the Jets. Lorenzo Mauldin, Freddie Bishop and Mike Catapano will get first dibs at the outside positions, but you can bet they will make a significant acquisition, either in the draft or free agency. Erin Henderson, who turns 30 before the season, could re-sign and compete for an inside slot.

Secondary: Releasing Antonio Cromartie, who turns 32 in April, started the youth movement. They have in-house candidates to replace him, namely Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams, but that won't preclude the Jets from looking to draft another corner. Darrelle Revis will be 31 by the start of the season, so they have to start planning for life after Revis.