We've already learned about a couple of age cutoffs in Madden 17. Regression kicks in at 28, and XP cost increases significantly at 26. Now we have a new cutoff (and it's a familiar one): Win your awards before you turn 26.
There are a lot of factors that go into how much XP you get for your awards including, interestingly, your player's OVR rating. But there is one thing that's constant: Every year you get older, you get less XP for the awards you win. The formula EA uses is a little funky, but it's consistent across every award: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl, all of them.
This chart shows how much less XP you will get for your awards each year you age. You get the most at 20, the youngest you can be in the game, and it gets worse from there.
Two things stand out (thanks in part to my highlighting): You face a significant drop when you turn 26 (80%!), and then you get another kick in the nuts when you turn 31. After you turn 31, EA leaves you alone to collect your pathetic sums of award XP. You'll take your 150 XP for winning league MVP, and you'll like it!
If the percentage drops seem strange, it's because they are. If you get 7,440 XP for winning MVP at age 20, you will only get 6,696 XP for winning MVP at age 21. That's a drop of 744 XP. If you can't do the math in your head, you can glance up at the chart for a reminder: That's a 10% drop.
Here's the thing though: Instead of dropping another 10% when you turn 22, the XP you get from winning the award drops another 744 XP (the amount it originally dropped when you turned 21). It keeps dropping the original 10% (744 XP in this case) every year till you turn 26. Then it's just a flat 80% drop across the board.
For fans of round numbers: If your player would have gotten 10,000 XP for winning MVP at age 20, he'd only get 9,000 for winning MVP at age 21, 8,000 for winning at age 22, and so on. The same player that would get 10,000 XP for winning MVP at age 20 would get just 1,000 XP for winning at age 26 and a measly 250 XP for winning at age 31.
We already knew that Madden hates old people. This is just another confirmation of that fact. Not only do player upgrades become prohibitively expensive when you turn 26, these players get significantly less XP even when they dominate the league.
So now we know that it's beneficial to win before you hit the ripe old age of 26. But it's also valuable to know that if you want to maximize your XP gain, you should be winning your awards with your crappiest players. Here are the award XP hauls for a 20-year-old Tom Brady (thank you, player editing, for letting me edit ages).
I simmed seasons ensuring a 20-year-old Brady won the MVP each time with the different OVR ratings listed above (it's surprisingly hard to lock an OVR into a round number), and you can see how much XP he got for the different awards. The better your player, the less XP you get for even making a Pro Bowl. A 70 OVR player gets five times as much XP for winning an award that a 99 OVR player does. Using the above example, that's 70,000 more total XP for the 70 OVR compared to the 99 OVR.
I can kind of understand EA's thinking here: Young players and players who aren't that good who excel deserve big bumps. It helps them meet the OVR that their performance dictates. Old guys (26, ha!) and guys who are already good probably don't need all that XP since they are already "good." However, that doesn't make it any less disheartening when you have a player crush it during the season and only get a couple of hundred XP for it, not even enough to upgrade a single trait.
Since all of the upgrades are much cheaper when you are young, your best course of action is to win your awards with your young guys who have low OVRs, get tens of thousands of XP, make them physical freaks (like the guy who upgraded Tevin Coleman to 97 speed in our league thanks to winning a handful of awards), then repeat the next year. Sounds easy enough, right?