The current media headline surrounding the Ravens is “Ravens’ Joe Flacco can see himself playing at age 40” and, as always, it’s a manufactured headline. This is the actual quote from the NFL.com article:
“I don’t feel any worse because of my age yet,” the Ravens quarterback said. “I’m not going to be 50 (years old) and playing. I hope I’m 40, but 50, no.”
Hoping he can play until he’s 40, put him up there with every other athlete that’s played at a professional level. But this article isn’t about trashing artificial headlines, as much as I’d love it to be. This is about examining the idea whether or not Joe Flacco could realistically play until he’s 40.
Now, only 35 position players, not pure kickers, have played in the NFL at the age 40 or older. So playing to 40 is doable, but highly unlikely. Not only would Flacco have to remain healthy, his level of play would have to defy the aging curve just to keep a backup position.
What’s the aging curve look like? Well lucky for me, Chase Stuart over at Football Perspective did all the heavy lifting looking at QB aging curves. I highly recommend you read that before you finish this. But basically, I’m going to predict Flacco’s future numbers by using the red line on Stuart’s age curve graph. The red line below shows the aging patterns when you divide by the total number of QBs in the group Stuart studied, which gives a much more realistic idea of the aging curve.
Based on this, Flacco’s last season, where he was 29, should be the best of his career as shown by the 100 percent on the graph.
Looking at his stats career wise, Stuart is mostly correct with his aging curve in regards to Flacco. A majority of Flacco’s stats are career highs. So using said curve, let’s Flacco’s numbers should look like assuming he starts every game.
Completions and Attempts are a very volatile variable in all of this this, so it’s not very fair to put them against the aging curve as they change every year, up and down, regardless. However, I believe it’s safe to say the decline in those stats reflect on the idea that the player will get hurt more the longer they play and/or lose their starting job.
Looking at the stats, I think it is safe to say Flacco could hold a starting job, be it with the Ravens or whoever, until around the age of 35. After that, his stats start declining, and if he’s still in the league at 40, he’ll probably end up a backup. So statistically, I believe he could play until he’s 40, if you count being a backup as “playing”. But physically, I don’t believe his body will hold up.
Then again, you should never underestimate an elite dragon.