FRISCO, Texas – Even before Jason Witten and Dez Bryant left the locker room, it was well-established that the Cowboys were getting younger.
Right around the time Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott burst onto the scene in 2016, it's felt like a youth movement in this organization. The Cowboys have drafted well these past five or so years, and they've replaced veteran players with young ones at several positions.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett chalked it up to the ever-changing nature of the NFL when he was asked about it on Wednesday.
"There are a lot of young players on teams throughout the league. Our team is really young," he said."
Garrett isn't wrong. The average NFL career only lasts three years, so it stands to reason that the majority of the players in the league would be young. Typically, the average age of each team in the NFL hovers between 24 and 27 years old.
But even by that standard, the Cowboys are entering a territory they haven't seen in a while. As it sits right now, there are only three players on the roster who are 30 or older – kicker Dan Bailey, long snapper L.P. Ladouceur and linebacker Sean Lee.
In fact, only 18 of the 90 players on this team are even 27 or older – meaning the vast majority of this year's Cowboys are in the beginning phases of their careers.
"We have 87 guys who are in their 20s and a lot of those guys in the 20s are 22, 23, 24," Garrett said.
It might be the nature of the NFL to be young, but at the rate this is going, the Cowboys will likely be one of the league's youngest teams. Take a look at this age breakdown of the entire NFL from last fall.
When they were done cutting down to 53 last year, the Cowboys ranked 16th in the league with an average age of 26.06. Right now, with 90 players, their average age sits at 24.7 – which would rank them second in the league, only behind last year's Browns.
"Obviously, it's nervous but it's good nervous in terms of knowing that there's no Romo out there, there's no Witten, there's no Dez Bryant. That gets your attention," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Of course, the number is going to change. A lot of the cuts this September will be undrafted rookies, and young players will be let go in favor of established veterans. It's a good guess that the final team will be a bit older than it is right now.
But probably not by much. After all, Lee is still the only player on offense or defense who is over 30. An educated guess of the final 53 produced an average age of 25.07 – which still would've ranked second-youngest in 2017.
The key is going to be how well all of that young talent plays. But, in the blink of an eye, the Cowboys have done a remarkable job of turning over their roster.