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May 22, 2024

Jason Kelce Contemplates Retirement After 13 Seasons With the Eagles

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Jan 17, 2024

Jason Kelce, the Philadelphia Eagles’ veteran center and team leader, has indicated that he is strongly considering retirement after 13 standout seasons in the NFL. Kelce became emotional after the Eagles’ recent playoff loss, leading to speculation that he may have played his final game.

Kelce Sheds Tears Following Playoff Defeat

After the Eagles lost 31-15 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round on January 16th, Kelce was seen with tears in his eyes, embracing teammates and coaches in what had the feel of a farewell.

While Kelce himself did not confirm plans to retire in the immediate aftermath, his emotional response suggested he viewed it as potentially his last time on the field with his Eagles teammates.

“Obviously getting a little emotional after the game,” Kelce told reporters. “It’s tough to get to this point, especially two years in a row. Sort of the finality of it all kind of settles in a bit.”

Retirement Speculation Mounts

In the days following the loss, speculation mounted that the 34-year-old Kelce would choose to end his NFL career.

Sources suggested Kelce told Eagles teammates following the game that he intended to retire. The Globe and Mail reported that Kelce informed the Eagles locker room, “I’m done, guys.”

While not an official announcement, such statements from the respected team leader carried weight. Teammates and coaches appeared to be operating under the assumption that Kelce’s fantastic career was likely over.

Kelce Addresses Retirement Rumors

On January 17th, Kelce directly responded to the swirling retirement rumors during the latest episode of his popular podcast, New Heights.

While again stopping short of making his plans definitively known, Kelce confirmed he is strongly weighing hanging up his cleats this offseason.

“Really the only person who is going to announce that officially on the record will obviously be myself when the time is right,” Kelce said. “As of right now, I have not made any sort of definitive official announcement, I’d say, more to my teammates.”

Kelce indicated he will take time this offseason to determine if he has more left in the tank, or if walking away is the right decision after 13 seasons as one of the league’s elite centers.

Looking Back at a Standout Career

If Kelce does indeed retire, he concludes a fantastic NFL career that includes making five Pro Bowls, being named an All-Pro four times, and helping lead the Eagles to victory in Super Bowl LII.

Kelce has been a cornerstone of outstanding Eagles offensive lines ever since emerging as a sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Cincinnati.

Season Games Started Pro Bowls All-Pros
2011 16 0 0
2012 16 0 0
2013 16 0 0
2014 16 0 0
2015 16 1 0
2016 16 1 1
2017 16 1 1
2018 16 1 1
2019 16 0 0
2020 15 0 0
2021 17 1 1
2022 17 0 0
2023 17 0 0
Totals 217 5 4

Known for his athleticism, intelligence diagnosing defenses pre-snap, rugged blocking ability and phenomenal durability, Kelce has been an iron man up front. He has started all 17 regular season games in each of the past six seasons while battling through injuries.

Kelce put together perhaps his finest season in 2021 at age 33, showing few signs of decline and earning First Team All-Pro honors for the third time.

While 2022 saw minor drop off, Kelce again started every game and helped pave the way for the Eagles to claim the NFC’s #1 seed. His value as the one constant amidst rotating personnel cannot be overstated.

Off the field, Kelce’s leadership and character played a massive role in establishing the team culture that has Philadelphia poised for long-term success. His blue collar mentality embodied the city he plays for, making him a hugely popular figure that transcended football.

What Retirement Would Mean for Eagles

Losing someone of Kelce’s caliber would create a major hole in the middle of the Eagles offensive line. While Philadelphia has strong bookend tackles in Pro Bowlers Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata, center becomes a glaring question mark if Kelce exits.

Finding an adequate replacement seems unlikely. Kelce possesses a Hall of Fame-caliber blend of abilities that allowed him to thrive against even elite interior pass rushers.

The Eagles would likely turn to 2021 second-round pick Landon Dickerson at center. Dickerson filled in well at guard when called upon but represents an uncertaint downgrade. Developing into anything close to the player Kelce has been appears doubtful.

Upheaval along the offensive line could hamper the development of quarterback and 2022 MVP candidate Jalen Hurts entering his pivotal third season as starter. Any regression blocking the run or in pass protection could limit Hurts and the offense’s ceiling.

With limited cap space, Philadelphia cannot realistically replace Kelce in free agency either. The franchise finds itself all-in on capitalizing on their current window to win another championship. His retirement could force a short-term reshuffling of priorities.

Long-term however, Kelce hanging them up may help facilitate a smooth changing of the guard. The Eagles cannot reasonably expect to keep the band together much longer as core players age. His absence grants the next generation opportunity to establish themselves as viable successors earlier than if Kelce returned.

Looking Ahead at Kelce’s Future

If Kelce elects to retire, it likely marks the conclusion of a career destined to end in a gold jacket. He will presumably receive Hall of Fame induction on the first ballot half a decade from now as one of the premier centers of his era.

In the nearer future, Kelce figures to expand on his media presence cultivated through pods like New Heights alongside his brother Travis. He brings intelligence, wit and an authentic connection with fans sure to translate to broadcasting.

Down the line, do not be surprised if Kelce remains involved with the Eagles organization in some capacity. His passion for the franchise and city suggests he will look to give back however he can even in retirement.

For now, the football world awaits Kelce’s final word on his playing status. After 13 remarkable campaigns anchoring elite lines and capturing the hearts of Philadelphians, Kelce has certainly earned the right to leave on his own terms whenever he deems fit.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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