Age might be just a number, but it's a number that has the Broncos' attention.

And in the wake of their stunning double-overtime playoff loss to Baltimore, the Broncos begin the offseason trying to identify the line between being a young, homegrown team able to overcome inevitable injuries and a team savvy enough to play its best in the biggest games.

"You're always going to have tough decisions," said John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations. "We're always going to be talking about decisions where we're trying to stay young and develop a guy, as opposed to a proven veteran. Coaches like the experience, and we'll always sit down and have those discussions and come to a decision that is the best thing for us.

"You want to have that youth for a variety of reasons, but I think you have to have a mix of both. It's always an individual situation, with each player. I would love to be young and good, but I think you've got to have the right mix."

Elway, who attended Senior Bowl practices last week in Mobile, Ala., with Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell, said he sees the annual draft producing the "core of our team." But he will be open to signing free agents who can help strengthen the roster.

Last year, the Broncos signed linebacker Keith Brooking and safety Jim Leonhard, ages 37 and 30 respectively, after training camp opened. They signed 31-year-old safety Mike Adams when free agency opened last March.

When the 2012 season started, the Broncos were the 10th-oldest team in the 32-team NFL with a per-player average age of 26.5. St. Louis was the league's youngest team with an average age of 25.3. The Super Bowl participants were among the oldest: San Francisco was sixth and Baltimore was 12th.

Read more: John Elway wants youth to be big part of Denver Broncos' future - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_22463511/john-elway-wants-youth-be-big-part-denver#ixzz2JILWHNnL

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