AP analysis: The NFL keeps going younger and cheaper
By the time NFL players reach their third and fourth years in the league, the vast majority are struggling just to hang on because of injuries or younger, faster and often cheaper rookies out for their jobs.
In 2006 and 2011, the players union and the NFL tried to do something about that, adopting salary and bookkeeping rules with the potential to extend the careers of these veterans.
It hasn’t worked.
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, The Associated Press found that since 2005, the average amount of playing experience for athletes on the NFL’s opening-day rosters has shrunk from 4.6 years to 4.3.
In 2005, there were 784 players with three years’ experience or less and 714 with five or more years. In 2018, the gap widened to 852 and 644.
And the AP found experience level has dropped at every position, except quarterback, punter and kicker.