At 32 years of age, Jason Kelce is taking his career one year at a time, stepping away after each season to assess his football future.
But Kelce wanted to emphasize something this week: When he does decide to hang up his cleats, he’s going to let everyone know in a big way.
Basically, we can all stop retirement watch.
This has all turned into, ‘Is he retiring? Is he retiring?’” Kelce said on a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. “I can’t say this enough, when I’ve decided to retire, you guys will know and it’ll be a very loud and emphatic statement.
About a month ago, Kelce announced via social media that he was officially returning for the 2020 season. He made that decision and informed the Eagles well before then, but after he kept getting asked, he finally decided to post that he was retiring from arm wrestling, but ready for the 2020 football season.
Kelce said that when he does decide to retire, his plan is to let the Eagles know early in the offseason, before the draft and free agency. That would obviously give the Eagles some extra time to formulate a plan to replace their longtime All-Pro center.
“It’s not going to be sprung out of nowhere, “he said. “That’s not my goal. For me, last year I very much felt comfortable with the way the season went. I was pretty solidified early on that I was going to play another season. I let the team know that very quickly.”
A couple years ago, a report surfaced that Kelce was contemplating retirement, but he decided to return for the 2019 season. The reason he began to think about stepping away was a brutal 2018, when his body took quite a beating. Kelce managed to start every game that season but dealt with several injuries, including a severely sprained MCL.
In 2019, it wasn’t like he didn’t play through ailments but by his standards, it was a pretty easy year physically. Kelce started every game again and was the only offensive player on the team to play every single snap.
Kelce has started all 16 games in each of the last five seasons and he’s done it in seven of his nine NFL seasons. Losing Kelce would obviously be a big blow. Because, despite turning 32 during last season, Kelce is still playing at an extremely high level. He’s been an All-Pro for three straight seasons.
Without Kelce, the future plan could be to move former third-round pick Isaac Seumalo from left guard to center. Perhaps a young player like Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll or Luke Juriga could be the answer. Or maybe the next center of the Eagles isn’t on the roster yet.
With Kelce definitely back in 2020 and with him under contract through 2021, the Eagles just hope they won’t have to figure it out soon.
“The reason that I keep stepping back after the season to try and make these decisions is because the NFL season is a grueling season,” Kelce said. “It’s grueling physically, and more than people realize, it’s grueling mentally, especially if you put the effort and energy required to be great into it. That takes its toll. It’s hard to continue to do that.
“And you want to reflect after you’ve calmed down and you’ve gotten back to normal, to see if you can do that again and if you can give that same emotion and energy that’s required to play at a high level to your teammates and to your coaches and to the city.”
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