Center Jason Kelce is returning to the Eagles for the 2023 season because, quite simply, he's continuing to enjoy the game. The locker room. The Eagles organization. Playing for Head Coach Nick Sirianni and Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland.
This is still fun.
So, he's for more in what should be a career that eventually lands him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"You think about it and the moment the season is over, you try to decompress a little bit and because we played in the Super Bowl there was a little less time because you want to make a decision before free agency starts to let the team know what's happening," Kelce said moments after signing his contract at the NovaCare Complex for the 2023 campaign.
"Howie (Roseman) was very kind to me in making it open-ended with no pressure but I understand the circumstances. Ultimately, just trying to weigh the pros and cons, right? This is a wonderful business and I love playing football, but there are drawbacks. You sit there and you think of all of those things, talk to the right people, and eventually, it became clear that I'm not quite ready to call it quits yet.
"I really enjoy this team, this organization, the coaches. It was a fun year last year and I'm looking forward to another fun one this year."
Kelce has said in the past that "when it's time to stop, it will be clear," and that's very much in his mind. But that's not the feeling now. His wife, Kylie, told him that "if you're still debating it at this point, I don't think you're ready to stop and you obviously still love it and if you quit now, you'll regret it," and that resonated with Kelce.
Kelce has made six Pro Bowls. He's been a first-team All-Pro five times. There are only two centers in NFL history since 1970 – former Steelers Mike Webster and Dermontii Dawson – who have accomplished as much and both of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is a lot of gas in Kelce's tank after his outstanding 2022 play.
"I'm a more efficient player now," he said. "I was telling Stout, I look back at old tape and I think, 'If I only knew then what I know now,' or 'If I only played then with this technique, or thought this way, I could have been more efficient back then.' In some ways, I'm better. In some ways, I'm worse, but I'm still pretty efficient.
"Legacies are great, but you can't look at that until you're done. Pro Bowls are important, but it's much more important how I'm remembered by my teammates and coaches and people that really know. I've been to a lot of Pro Bowls and I've been heralded as a really good offensive lineman, but I honestly don't think I'm the best lineman in my time here at the Eagles ... it takes all of us working together and being on the same page with all of those guys, so I really care about the legacy I've left in those guys' minds and how I've treated individuals in the building. That's what will always resonate most with me."
Kelce announced earlier in the week on Twitter that he was coming back and the news was received as you would expect – with total jubilation by the fans and the media. That's par for the course for one of the franchise's best-ever players on and off the field.
He has made a huge difference for so many, so to get the love back from them was something Kelce truly appreciated.
"Philadelphia has been a blessing for me to come here. I think I fit in really well," he said, "not just with the organization and the team, but also with the fan base. I'm very grateful to have been able to play here and insert myself and my family into Philadelphia and fully call myself a Philadelphian here. It's an honor."