Why you should only develop players under 26

Player development has gotten a big overhaul in Madden 17. Each week you have two different ways you can actively develop players and gain XP (not counting padding your stats during gameplay):
Focus Training for three different players

Drills for various pairs of player groups

Focus Training allows you to get some easy XP for your preferred players based on their Development Trait: 

  • 50 XP for Slow
  • 100 XP for Normal
  • 200 XP for Quick
  • 300 XP for Star

You can choose any three players you like (but you can't choose the same player more than once per week).

Drills have a whole host of new skills you can practice. This is like the drills from Madden 16, except every position can benefit, even your kickers and punters. Each skill has two positions that will benefit with an amount of XP based on the following factors: 

  • The medal you earn in the drill (Bronze, Silver, or Gold)
  • The player’s development trait (Slow, Normal, Quick, Star)
  • The player’s position in your depth chart

The same player with normal dev who is 5th on your depth chart will earn less XP for a gold medal than if you have him 1st or 2nd. 

If you earn a medal in a drill, you can sim that drill each week and receive the same amount of XP every time. You can also easily and obsessively restart a drill as many times as you want before it’s over to make sure you get the medal you desire. And if your coach has a position package, every player at that position will receive a little XP boost for each drill. 

Now that you know how you can get XP, the bigger question is...who should get the XP?

The short answer: Nobody over 26. 

Here’s why:

EA added a new scaling system to the costs associated with upgrading your player. As your player gets older, traits become more expensive. This makes sense: Younger players have a lot more room to improve than your shitty old meme players that you refuse to cut. Increasing 1 point of Short Accuracy will never be cheaper than in your new QB’s rookie season. 

So why shouldn’t you develop anyone over 26? That’s the age where the cost of every single attribute increases significantly

Physical Traits vs Skill Traits

EA has divided player traits into two categories in Madden 17. I am calling them Physical Traits and Skill Traits. 

Physical Traits are things like speed and strength and jumping...the gifts your mama gave you. 

Skill Traits are things you would think you'd learn from training or playing the game like passing accuracy, route running, and awareness (unless you are Darrius Heyward-Bey).

The cost for Physical Traits and Skill Traits increase each season, but at different rates. 

Skill Traits

Skill Traits start increasing in cost right away. You draft Johnny Johnson, Jr., a 21-year-old wide receiver with normal development. Route running will cost 739 points to upgrade from 85 to 86 during his rookie season. If you wait until next season when Johnny is 22, that same route running bump from 85 to 86 will now cost you 806 points. These Skill Traits increase 7-9% in cost each year until the player's 26th birthday. (Remember that number!)

Physical Traits

Physical traits are a little different. These traits cost the exact same up until your 24th birthday. So if Johnny Johnson, Jr. has 90 speed, it’ll cost 10,237 points to upgrade him to 91 during his rookie season. It costs the same 10,237 points at 22 and 23 as well. 

But once physical traits start increasing in cost, watch out: It’s not a minor 7-9% bump per year like Skill Traits. The first jump is 25%! At 24, it now costs 12,796 to upgrade from 90 SPD to 91 SPD. You’ll see an additional 20-25% increase in cost EVERY year until his 29th birthday. At this point, it would cost JJJr 35,831 points to go from 90 to 91 speed (assuming he hasn’t already dropped below that due to new “getting older” regression that kicks in around age 28). 

The Dreaded 26th Year

When a player turns 26, it’s like Cinderella riding in her carriage as the clock strikes midnight. The cost of every single trait, Physical and Skill, increases by 33.3%. The future of your franchise is quickly turning into a pumpkin. To help expedite the process, on his 27th birthday the very next year, the cost of every single trait, Physical and Skill, increases by another 25%. Your pumpkin is now rotting in front of your house covered in maggots, and your neighbors are all judging you. 

As you can see in the chart below, the cost continues to increase by at least 10% every year until JoJoJu retires or dies from brain trauma. It would seem like a pretty big waste of time to spend XP on these players at these prices. 

The Increase in Cost from One Age to the Next

Age Physical Trait XP Cost Example Skill Trait XP Cost Example
21 500 500
22 0% 500 9% 546
23 0% 500 8% 591
24 25% 625 8% 638
25 20% 750 7% 683
26 33% 1000 33% 911
27 25% 1250 25% 1138
28 20% 1500 13% 1288
29 17% 1750 12% 1438
30 14% 2000 11% 1595
31 17% 2330 14% 1822
32 14% 2665 12% 2050
33 13% 3000 11% 2278
34 3% 3105 13% 2578
35 3% 3210 12% 2883

Note: This chart assumes that you have not yet upgraded that trait. As you upgrade a trait, it becomes more expensive to upgrade (more details in an upcoming Deep Dive). But the percentage increase each year still jumps the same regardless of the starting cost of the trait.

Which trait is which?

For the most part, you can guess which is which, but EA throws us a few curveballs when it comes to physical traits vs skill traits. Catching is a skill trait, but catching in traffic is a physical trait. Power moves and finesse moves are apparently physical traits, but man coverage and zone coverage are skill traits. Here is the full list:

Physical Traits

Speed, Strength, Acceleration, Agility, Elusiveness, Stamina, Injury, Jumping

Throw Power, Throw on the Run

Trucking, Stiff Arm, Juke, Spin

Catch in Traffic, Spec Catch, Kick Return

Pass Block, Run Block, Impact Block

Tackle, Hit Power, Block Shed, Power Move, Finesse Move

Kick Power

Skill Traits

Awareness, Toughness

Short Accuracy, Medium Accuracy, Deep Accuracy, Play Action

Carrying, Ball Carrier Vision

Catching, Route Running, Release

Play Recognition, Pursuit, Man Coverage, Zone Coverage

Kick Accuracy

Does Development Help?


Development will only decrease the cost of each trait. Traits for Normal Dev cost 5% less than Slow, Quick Dev costs 5% less than Normal, and Star Dev costs 5% less than Quick.

So while the traits themselves are cheaper, the annual percentage increase in cost is the same for your backup slow dev idiot lineman as it is for your star dev MVP quarterback. 

In Conclusion

During the Madden 17 launch day stream from EA, the fellas on the stream were playing a franchise with the Bucs and were trying to decide who to develop. After someone suggested Lavonte David, the guy in charge of the new development system at EA said he wouldn't recommend that. I thought this was strange at the time. David has Star Development and is still young. Last year, I would have dev'd him till my nose bled. But now it makes sense: He's not young enough. Lavonte David is 26! Past his development prime. 

If you want to maximize your training and XP spending, the new development tool should only be used for your players 25 and under, ideally the ones with Quick or Star Dev. 

Dan Chancellor

Orlando, Florida

I created Deep Dive Gaming as an excuse to post more charts about the games I love to play. I live in Florida with my wife, son, and a random assortment of cats.