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Jason Kelce tearfully announces NFL retirement after 13 seasons with the Eagles

Olivia Reiner, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

PHILADELPHIA — Long before he embarked upon his NFL journey, Eagles center Jason Kelce aspired to play his entire career in a single city. On Monday afternoon, he officially achieved that goal.

After 13 seasons spent exclusively with the Eagles, Kelce announced his retirement in a news conference at the NovaCare Complex with his family, coaches, and former teammates in attendance.

“Thank you, Philadelphia,” Kelce said. “From the bottom of my heart. Thank you for letting me represent this city and allowing me into your homes every Sunday. It has truly been a privilege. You have all been so good to me and my family.”

He told The Inquirer at the AFC championship game in January that he wasn’t sure what was going to happen for him, but he wants to be involved in the organization regardless of whether he decides to keep playing or not.

However, following the Eagles’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round, sources confirmed to The Inquirer that Kelce told teammates that he planned to retire.

The Eagles have been planning for Kelce’s retirement from a team-building perspective since last offseason. General manager Howie Roseman selected offensive lineman Cam Jurgens in the second round, No. 51 overall, in the 2022 draft out of Nebraska as the heir apparent to Kelce.

 

Jurgens, 24, served as the starting center for three seasons at Nebraska. Upon making the transition to the NFL, Jurgens earned the starting right guard gig out of training camp with Kelce returning for another season. When Kelce ultimately retires, Jurgens could slide over to center, or the Eagles could identify another candidate via the draft or free agency and keep Jurgens at right guard.

The Eagles selected Kelce in the sixth round, No. 191 overall, in the 2011 draft out of Cincinnati. The native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has spent all 13 seasons of his NFL career with the Eagles. Kelce was part of the Super Bowl LII championship team and was named to seven Pro Bowl and six All-Pro rosters.

This season, Kelce broke Jon Runyan’s record of 144 consecutive regular-season starts (2000-08), amassing 156 of his own. That streak was the second-longest among active players in 2023 behind Atlanta Falcons tackle Jake Matthews (162), and it is the longest by a center since Casey Wiegmann (175 from 2001-11 with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos).

Kelce played 193 regular-season games with the Eagles, ranking ahead of any offensive lineman in franchise history. Defensive end Brandon Graham holds the franchise record among all position groups with 195 games.

Throughout the last 13 seasons, Pro Football Focus attributes Kelce with conceding just 19 sacks on 7,944 career pass-blocking snaps. In 2023, Kelce was credited with allowing one sack, one hit, and 13 hurries. In each of those categories, Kelce ranked in the top 10 in the league among starting centers.


©2024 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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