Is Jason Kelce retirement decision coming soon? How it affects Eagles’ entire offseason

Is Jason Kelce retirement decision coming soon? How it affects Eagles' entire offseason

Two years ago, Jason Kelce announced he was returning to the Eagles by tapping a keg of beer that head coach Nick Sirianni got for him as an incentive to not retire.

Is Jason Kelce retirement decision coming soon? How it affects Eagles' entire offseason

Last year, Kelce announced his return on an Instagram post, which he ended by saying, “Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain’t (expletive) done yet!”

So what will it be this year? An announcement in a Mummers costume? The luchador mask he wore at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl party? A shirtless dive onto a collapsible table?

In the previous two instances, Kelce made his decision on March 10 and March 13, respectively, just a few days before the start of the NFL’s new league year. That’s when teams have to be compliant with the salary cap, and when they can start pursuing free agents.

This year, the new season begins on March 13. Suffice it to say, the Eagles would like a decision sooner than that, perhaps by the time general manager Howie Roseman and staff head to the NFL scouting combine next week in Indianapolis.

After all, a Kelce decision will set off a chain reaction for the Eagles no matter what he decides. Here’s a look at how:

What we know about Jason Kelce’s retirement decision
Kelce appears closer to retirement than ever before, and not just because he’s 36 years old and has contemplated retirement during each of the last five offseasons.

Kelce reportedly told teammates after the Eagles’ 32-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC wild-card playoff game that he was going to retire, only to say two days later on his podcast that he hasn’t made up his mind yet.

Kelce refused to talk about it the last time he spoke to the media on Jan. 17. But in the five weeks since then, we have seen Kelce travel with his brother, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.

There was Kelce shirtless in the bitter cold in Buffalo. There was Kelce wearing Chiefs overalls at the Super Bowl.

Then again, Kelce is still considered the best center in the NFL. Last season, he was selected to the Pro Bowl for the seventh time and was named first-team All-Pro for the sixth time in his Hall of Fame-caliber career.

Kelce, however, did say that he wasn’t satisfied with his play down the stretch.

“Obviously, it’s a very underperforming season for me as a whole,” Kelce said. “We didn’t live up to the potential that we had. It’s a frustrating close on a probably even more frustrating season.”

Is that 1-6 finish the final straw that sends Kelce into retirement? Or does it make him even more determined to come back next season?

Kelce, however, played just about every snap at center since then, prolonging his franchise-record consecutive games started streak to 156. Jurgens played right guard in 2023. Jurgens can certainly move back to center, but he’s not at Kelce’s level (who is?), and the Eagles would have to replace Jurgens at right guard.

The Eagles prepared for that, drafting Tyler Steen in the third round last spring. But Steen was a tackle in college and had never played guard until arriving in Philadelphia.

Steen started one game in place of Jurgens, who missed six games with various injuries. It didn’t go well as Sua Opeta finished out the season as Jurgens’ backup.

It’s possible that Steen will be able to man the position with a full offseason under his belt. If not, the Eagles might have to look at a free agent or bring back two of their own free agents in Opeta and/or Jack Driscoll.

It’s also possible that the Eagles will have to sign or draft a backup center if Jurgens is the starter. Landon Dickerson, whom the Eagles drafted in the second round in 2021 as a center, has played left guard in his three seasons. Dickerson was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons, so the Eagles clearly would like to keep him at left guard.

If Kelce returns, then the offensive line, one of the best in the NFL, can stay as is.

But that creates another issue …