Eagles and Jason Kelce Agree on One-Year Extension
(973espn.com) - Retirement rumors were just that for Jason Kelce as the veteran center agreed to a one-year extension with the Eagles through the 2021 season.
As 973espn.com reported back in January the speculation that Kelce was "likely to retire" at the end of the Eagles playoff run was inaccurate, or perhaps better described incomplete.
The All-Pro, who is among the best centers in football is in a new phase of his life and decisions were set to be made in the offseason.
The big issue was money. Kelce, 31, was under contract through 2020 but the guaranteed money on his previous deal signed in 2014 was done with only salaries of $6.5 million in 2019 and $7 million in 2020 remained.
More so, any NFL season is a grind and it's human nature for older players to contemplate whether they want to put in all the time and effort it takes to be an All-Pro level player. The 2018-19 season was particularly difficult on Kelce from a physical perspective due to the short turnaround after a Super Bowl LII championship and knee and elbow issues.
“I think it’s definitely a reflection after every season at this point," Kelce admitted on a conference call Saturday. "The reality is as you get older, playing the game at this level gets harder ... I had quite a few injuries last year that made the season difficult.”
Finally, Kelce was also married last spring and now has different goals in life so if the Eagles showed no interest in making him happy with a restructured deal, anything could have happened.
That said, Philadelphia has tremendous respect for Kelce, who was named a first-team All-Pro for the second consecutive season and was also graded as the best center in the NFL by ProFootballFocus.com.
The Eagles showed that by making Kelce the highest-paid center in football. The new deal averages $11 million per season, according to an NFL source, so Kelce got a significant raise as well as further guarantees, although the cap number is allievated in the short term.
"I think it’s not necessarily about being the highest paid center," Kelce said. "The salary and contract is one part of being a happy and fulfilled player. But more importantly I get to be a part of this organization."
Fresh off the extension, Kelce is now off to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, along with teammate Chris Long, as part of "Conquering Kili" fresh-water initiative.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen