Going into the 2013 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have the oldest starting defense in the league, even after the departure of linebacker James Harrison and nose tackle Casey Hampton, both who are 35-years old.
I don’t think their age will have an effect on the team’s production this year. Virtually the same defensive unit was first in the league in overall defense and pass defense, and second in the NFL in stopping the run last season.
However, I do feel that the time for many of the Steelers’ key defensive starters to experience another championship is coming to an end. Of the 11 players in the starting lineup, five of them are entering either their 11th or 12th season in the NFL, and are between the ages of 32 and 34.
At the age of 34, defensive end Brett Keisel will be the oldest of the bunch at the start of the season. Linebacker Larry Foote, safety Ryan Clark, and cornerback Ike Taylor all will be 33, and the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu will be 32.
Both Clark and Keisel will be free agents at the end of the season. Polamalu and Taylor have two more years on their contract, and although Foote is signed through 2015, there’s a chance that he could retire before his deal expires.
These key veterans are essential to the success of the Steelers, and without them, the chances of Pittsburgh possibly winning another Lombardi Trophy will dwindle significantly. More importantly, with Father Time rapidly taking his toll on these players, this 2013 season could be the final chance for them to get that championship.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google