Perish the thought of Jason Kelce ever suiting up for another NFL franchise. The man who once donned the Mummers costume after leading a parade down Broad Street would never dream of wearing anything except midnight green, right? It’s inconceivable.
It’s so nonsensical that it’s not worth losing any sleep over. Or could it actually happen in some bizarro universe where nothing makes sense?
Look, the idea of Kelce playing for any franchise other than the Philadelphia Eagles would be a cruel, twisted joke. It makes me sick even typing the words on this screen. However, Kelce is an impending free agent in 2023 and the national conspiracy theorists are already putting it out there.
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox mentioned the possibility of Kelce leaving Philly in a not-so-joking manner. He referenced the emergence of Cam Jurgens as a big reason why in a recent article:
The wild card here might be 35-year-old Eagles center Jason Kelce. While Kelce just earned his sixth Pro Bowl nod, he has said he is likely nearing the end of his playing career.
“If I’m being honest, my body is starting to fall apart,” Kelce said in September on his podcast, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce (h/t Liam Jenkins of Philly Sports Network).
The Eagles used a second-round pick on center Cameron Jurgens this past April, so if Kelce decides to keep playing, it may be for a new team.
Nick Sirianni Bribed Kelce to Return with Beer
The running joke last offseason was that it took beer to convince the All-Pro center to return for his 12th NFL season. Head coach Nick Sirianni literally had two kegs of beer delivered to his doorstep, then Kelce posted a video where he tapped a keg before taking a long sip from a plastic cup and announcing he was coming back.
“I’m definitely not retiring from playing for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Kelce said. “I’m having way too much fun doing that. Looking forward to another year, Philadelphia. To all my teammates, let’s go dominate.”
Kelce is on the books (via Spotrac) for a one-year deal worth $9 million in 2022. But, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Eagles “quietly restructured his old deal” last January as a way to spread his cap hit out over two seasons. He received a $2 million signing bonus, plus he is the highest-paid center in the NFL annually at $14 million.
If Kelce wants to return for what would be his 13th year in 2023, it’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles’ front office approaches that decision. It’s hard to not see them bringing him back at whatever cost. Then again, they did draft Cam Jurgens – Kelce’s eventual successor at center – in the 2022 NFL draft and the second-rounder looked polished and ready to go during training camp.
Other Impending Free Agents for Philadelphia
Kelce isn’t the only player in need of a new contract. The Eagles have several tough decisions to make ahead of the 2023 offseason, none bigger than those along their vaunted defensive line with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Javon Hargrave. Cox and Graham are two other wild cards to consider as Cox just celebrated his 32nd birthday in December and Graham is headed for his 35th birthday in April.
They have combined for 18 sacks this season. The smart money would be that the Eagles let the older guys walk and prepare to back up the Brinks truck to Hargrave’s garage. He’s projected to secure a 3-year deal worth an estimated $60.4 million, according to Spotrac.
Playing devil’s advocate: The New Journal’s Martin Frank proposed a scenario where the Eagles let Cox and Hargrave leave the nest. They could decide to steal 25-year-old Daron Payne away from the Washington Commanders. He’s four years younger than Hargrave, although Spotrac projects a 5-year, $97.5 million deal for Payne.
Here are the rest of the Eagles’ impending free agents, a list that doesn’t include Jalen Hurts who is set to enter the final year of his rookie deal next season: