The Seattle Seahawks lost starting center Austin Blythe to retirement this offseason. But while Blythe may be an underrated loss, his retirement doesn’t mean the Seahawks can’t still be better up front on offense next season.
That’s if the team targets Philadelphia Eagles 5-time All-Pro center Jason Kelce in free agency as NFL writer Ben Cooper of Clutch Points suggested.
“With a good offseason, the Seahawks could become one of the best teams in the NFC,” Cooper wrote. “They have a lot of talent and are on the cusp of being a great team. Upgrading their offensive line with an elite center like Jason Kelce would be ideal.”
Kelce has spent his entire career with the Eagles and could very well return to Philadelphia. Retirement is also a possibility for the 35-year-old center. But Kelce is set to be a free agent this offseason.
How Jason Kelce Fits With the Seahawks
While Kelce is one of the older offensive line starters in the league, he continues to be an elite player. He has made first-team All-Pro in five of the last six seasons, including in 2021 and 2022.
Furthermore, Kelce has made six Pro Bowls teams, including four straight since 2019.
It’s been an incredible career for Kelce, who the Eagles selected as a sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Despite being a low pick, Kelce has been Philadelphia’s starting center on the depth chart since his rookie season in 2011. He became the first rookie center to start 16 games for the Eagles. Kelce only played two contests because a partially torn MCL and ACL in 2012, but over the last decade, he’s missed just four games.
Kelce has made 130 straight regular season starts dating back to 2015.
Although no longer a young player, Kelce could certainly serve as a stopgap center for the Seahawks until the franchise finds a long-term replacement for Blythe.
To bring in Kelce, the Seahawks would have to offer him a far more lucrative deal than what Blythe signed last year. But Kelce would be an upgrade and isn’t expected to break the bank this offseason.
Spotrac projected Kelce to be worth $11.9 million on a one-year contract this offseason.
Seattle’s Need at Center With Austin Blythe Retirement
The Seahawks signed a one-year contract with a free agent center last year as well, agreeing to a one-year, $4 million deal with Blythe. But Blythe won’t be back for 2023, as he announced his plan to retire on February 28.
The 30-year-old was a reliable player for the Seahawks, as he started all 17 games and lined up for 96% of the team’s offensive snaps in 2022. ESPN’s Brady Henderson acknowledged that Blythe finished 13th in ESPN’s pass block win rate among centers last season.
But Blythe didn’t fare as well in other analytics. The PFF player grades ranked him second-to-last among centers who played at least 80% of his team’s snaps during 2022.
Blythe is a loss for the Seahawks, but not a major one, especially if the team can add Kelce in free agency. The PFF player grades rated Kelce second-best among centers who lined up for 80% of his team’s snaps.
Cooper also labeled the Las Vegas Raiders a potential landing spot for Kelce. The NFL writer also claimed the Eagles as the front runner to sign Kelce.
There’s no guarantee Kelce will return for a 13th NFL season either. The 5-time All-Pro left open the possibility of retiring during his postgame press conference after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
But even if for a season, the Seahawks would be prudent to at least pursue the possibility of bringing in the all-time great center.