Jason Kelce tells Eagles teammates he’s retiring, sources say
Kelce, 36, was visibly emotional at the end of the Eagles’ 32-9 wild-card playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The six-time All-Pro and future Hall of Famer has considered retiring in recent seasons, but this time it will happen, according to sources.
Kelce declined to talk with reporters in the locker room after the game, saying: “No guys, not today.”
“I love him,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “He’s special and I love him. He’s one of the most special guys I’ve been around. He’s always got a place here.”
Kelce played this season on a one-year contract and was set to become a free agent in March.
A sixth-round draft selection in 2011, Kelce has played his entire 13-year career with the Eagles and has been one of the key leaders for a team that has made six postseason appearances and two Super Bowl trips over the past seven seasons.
“He’s a legend in the city — really in the league,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “I don’t want to do a disservice to him and the things he’s been able to do and overcome. His journey to where he is now didn’t come easy. It’s been a long, long time coming for him, and every year since I’ve been here, it’s been, ‘Are you going to come back?’
“But he knows how much I love and appreciate him. He knows how much I’ve learned from him. He’ll forever have a special place in my heart.”
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson told reporters that Kelce has “hinted” to teammates that this would be his final season.
“I love him. He’s one of the best to ever play the game,” Johnson said. “The things he can do on the football field athletically — I don’t think we’ll see another one like him for a long time.”
Kelce is the fifth center in NFL history with at least six All-Pro selections. The other four — Jim Otto, Bulldog Turner, Dermontti Dawson, Jim Ringo — are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
ESPN’s Tim McManus contributed to this report.