Jason Kelce announced he was returning for his 12th NFL season in the most epic way possible on Thursday. One day later, the Philadelphia Eagles rewarded him with a one-year contract worth $14 million. Kelce is now the highest-paid center for the 2022 season.
“I’m definitely not retiring from playing for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Kelce said. “I’m having way too much fun doing that.”
News of Kelce’s extension (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport) sent a ripple effect around the league. The Eagles have 12 impending free agents that they need to figure out futures on, none bigger than starting safety Rodney McLeod. The 2021 Alan Page Community Award winner was quick to ponder his situation aloud on Twitter: “Only time will tell.”
McLeod is adored in the locker room and within the organization for his leadership. Is that enough to earn the 31-year-old a pay raise from the $4.3 million he earned in 2021? Remember, McLeod has missed 20 regular-season games due to injury since 2018. That’s a lot of missed snaps.
“Just keep pushing, keep believing, more importantly,” McLeod said following a win over Washington last December. “That’s what we always stress, man. You’re never out of it until the clock hits zero.”
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Looking Out at the Safety Landscape
It’s unclear what McLeod might garner on the open market. He is a very good starting safety, but not quite elite. His intangibles might be enough to push him into the top-15 at his position. How far up? And for how much money?
Well, Micah Hyde of the Buffalo Bills seems like a fair comparison. Same age, similar stats. Hyde is playing on a two-year deal worth $19.2 million, although he has one Pro Bowl appearance under his belt and none of the injury concerns.
McLeod might have to settle for somewhere in the $15 million range over two years. Testing the waters of free agency could be of interest considering this will likely be his last pay day. Only time will tell.
Marcus Maye Rumors Continue to Swirl
The Eagles are expected to be aggressive in free agency and safety is a position of need. In addition to McLeod, Anthony Harris – their other starting safety – is also looking for an extension on the $4 million deal he inked last season. Drafting a guy like Kyle Hamilton is one option, but he would likely have to fall to them unless they traded up. Luckily, there is an intriguing veteran out there.
Marcus Maye is a versatile free safety coming off a down year and looking for a change of scenery. Pro Football Focus projects the 29-year-old to get a one-year deal at $6 million. That’s pretty cheap for a guy who earned an 85.8 coverage grade in 2020.
ESPN’s Ben Linsey sees the Eagles as a perfect fit: “Maye is one of several free agents entering free agency off a significant, season-ending injury. Add that Maye wasn’t playing all that well before his injury and it’s reasonable to expect a suppressed market. That could present an opportunity for a team like Philadelphia in need of safety help.”