Jason Kelce Retirement Rumors: Eagles center hints at one last rodeo

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Jason Kelce
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce walks off the field following an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers won 32-9. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The last time retirement rumors swirled around Jason Kelce, he emphatically chugged a beer and let the foam drizzle down his scraggly beard before declaring his intentions to return. Eleven months later, that keg has been emptied and no one knows for sure if the All-Pro center played his final game on January 15 in Tampa Bay.

If he did, Kelce left with a bitter taste in his mouth contaminated by a nauseating collapse, arguably the worst stretch of football in franchise history. That unsavory flavor, seasoned with indigestible regret, may be enough to get the 36-year-old back for another year in a Philadelphia Eagles’ uniform. His brother Travis certainly thinks there is a strong possibility of a swan song.

Is Jason Kelce coming back in 2024?

“I think so. I don’t know,” Travis said about Jason possibly suiting up for the Eagles in Week 1. “I’m not a betting man, but I think he’s got some football left if he wants it.”

When a reporter asked for the betting odds, Travis buttoned up: “I’m going to leave that up to him.”

Jason Kelce did nothing to quell the speculation during a quick exchange at the Pro Bowl in Orlando with a young fan who begged the Eagles legend not to retire. He easily could have ignored the comment and stayed quiet, instead, Kelce pulled a sharpie out of his mouth so everyone could hear him state: “I’m gonna try not to.” Interesting.

Eagles Jason kelce
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) helps up Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Jason Kelce Not Trying to ‘Draw This Thing Out’

Jason Kelce has gone on record multiple times saying that if and when he decides to retire, it’ll be a thunderous announcement — picture a record-setting keg stand and ceremony, backed by a marching band clanging pots and pans down the streets of Sea Isle City — that leaves no doubt. For better or worse, the future of Hall of Famer is going to go out on his terms. And it’ll be a loud tribute to his boisterous body of work. Know that.

“I’m not trying to be dramatic and continue to draw this thing out,” Kelce said on a recent episode of his “New Heights” podcast. “When it’s time to officially announce what’s happening in the future, it’ll be done in a way that’s definitive and pays respect to a lot of people and individuals who have meant a lot to me.”

Time will tell on what Kelce’s final decision might be for the 2024 season. One thing everyone knows is the seven-time Pro Bowler would never leave the Eagles in a lurch. He respects the organization that drafted him way too much. Kelce wants to make sure the team is prepared to move in a new direction at the center position, with the heir apparent looking like Cam Jurgens unless they want to slide Landon Dickerson over there.

Jason kelce
FILE – Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2024, in East Rutherford, N.J. Eagles center Jason Kelce has told teammates he intends to retire after 13 NFL seasons, according to three people informed of the decision. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, out of respect for Kelce’s decision, which has not yet been made public. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston, File)

“There’s a lot of emotion in the room, for sure,” Jason Kelce said after the Eagles’ early playoff exit. “I don’t know what the future holds for anybody in that building right now.”

The key date to watch is March 11 when the “legal tampering period” begins in the NFL, then clubs are allowed to officially offer contracts on March 13. Kelce only signed a one-year deal ($14.25 million) last season so he’ll have to head back to the negotiating table if he plans to return for another year.

If not, the Eagles will likely look for a depth signing at center in free agency. Kelce’s decision will have far-reaching implications for how the team manages the salary cap as well as what they do in April’s draft. Yes, the clocking is ticking fast.

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack