In the form of a simple tweet within the first hour of the NFL's open negotiating period with potential unrestricted free agents, center Jason Kelce vaulted the Eagles into the 2023 offseason (it officially begins on Wednesday at 4 p.m.) into another extremely positive level.
Already buoyed by the signing of defensive end Brandon Graham on a one-year contract, the Eagles now know that Kelce will return for a 13th season and man the middle of an offensive line – and an offense – that should again be one of the very best in the league as the two sides agreed to terms on a deal for the '23 season on Monday night.
The 191st selection (sixth round) in the 2011 NFL Draft, Kelce is one of the best to ever play his position. In the fabulous run to Super Bowl LVII in the 2022 season, Kelce earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection and fifth All-Pro nod by playing 98 percent of the team's offensive snaps (1,151 in all) at the highest level. He was a dominating player all the way through the Super Bowl and then, as he has the last few seasons, wanted some time to decide his immediate future.
That decision was announced on Monday as Kelce put out the word at 12:37 p.m.
"I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season," Kelce tweeted. "After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year. Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain't ... done yet!"
This is great news for the Eagles, who value continuity and excellence along an offensive line that has been outstanding for many years with Kelce at the helm. Kelce has played in every game for the last eight seasons and has led with his leverage, outstanding athletic ability, and intelligence. He directs the offensive line calls and coordinates with quarterback Jalen Hurts to make sure the entire offense is on the same page with what is to come on each play.
One of only three centers since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to be named a first-team All-Pro five times, Kelce is at the top of his game, as 2022 showed. According to Pro Football Focus, Kelce produced the second-highest pass-blocking grade (82.0) of any center in the league, was one of two centers to not allow a single quarterback sack or quarterback hit, and had the second-highest run-blocking grade (89.4) per PFF. He has started 139 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Eagles history to Jon Runyan's 144 games from 2000-08.
Philadelphia's offense soared to New Heights (pun intended, the name of the outstanding podcast from Kelce and his brother, Travis) as the Eagles scored a single-season franchise record of 477 points and set Eagles marks in third-down efficiency (45.9 conversion percentage) and red zone touchdown efficiency (67.8 percent). The Eagles scored 32 rushing touchdowns in the 2022 season, tied for third-most in NFL history.
Kelce's contract was due to expire at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, when he would become an unrestricted free agent, but, just like last year, the Eagles made sure he would stay in Philadelphia. Kelce has indicated many times that he has no desire to play with another team, and the Eagles, as Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman has reiterated, want to keep as many of their best players as they can.
Kelce is certainly one of the team's – and the NFL's – best players.
His return guarantees great continuity up front for the Eagles, as left tackle Jordan Mailata, Pro Bowl left guard Landon Dickerson, and right tackle Lane Johnson are under contract for 2023. Right guard Isaac Seumalo is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
There were indications throughout 2022 that Kelce planned to play in 2023, but the word wasn't "official" until Monday's tweet.
"I feel really good and I'm having a lot of fun with these guys and this team," Kelce said during the Super Bowl week. "I'm focused on right now, but it's been a great season for us. We have a great group of guys and our coaches know me and I know them. It's all worked great for us throughout this season.
"They always say that you will know when it's time to retire, so we will see. Right now, I'm not thinking about that."
And he still isn't thinking about that. Kelce will return for a 13th season with the Eagles and the offensive line and the offense and the locker room and the team in general just became, made official from social media, that much better in the span of 168 characters.