Travis Kelce on Battles of Load Management and Maximizing Snaps

At minicamp, Kelce spoke about his desire to carry the load on offense and why he has to maintain a realistic mindset entering 2024.
Jan 7, 2024; Inglewood, California, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (front, right) looks on ahead of tight end Travis Kelce (left) during the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2024; Inglewood, California, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (front, right) looks on ahead of tight end Travis Kelce (left) during the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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At the height of his powers and athletic prime with the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce seemed to always be available. It's because in reality, he pretty much was.

From 2017-2020, Kelce logged over 3,700 snaps during the regular season and topped the 90% offensive share mark three times. In recent campaigns, however, the future Hall of Fame pass-catcher has watched those percentages drop. Since peaking in 2018, he's fallen nearly 20% in snaps during games played. The yearly breakdown paints a very clear picture:

  • 2018: 95%
  • 2019: 93%
  • 2020: 86%
  • 2021: 82%
  • 2022: 80%
  • 2023: 77%

In addition to the Chiefs exercising some load management with Kelce, he ended up missing the season opener with a knee injury. He then suffered a sprained ankle later on and dealt with numerous nicks and bruises elsewhere. Now just a handful of months away from his 35th birthday, the expectation is that Kansas City will keep the snap counts trend trickling down.

How does Kelce feel about it? Speaking to the media on Tuesday at mandatory minicamp, he emphasized his desire to play every snap but admitted he'll have to defer to head coach Andy Reid.

"I mean, it's my job to make sure that Coach Reid has full confidence in me [that] whenever he needs me out on that field or whenever I'm out on that field, I get my job done," Kelce said. "That's my job as a player. Coach Reid, he'll tell you, he's got 51% [vote]. So as much as I want to be out there every single play, I understand it's for the betterment of the team when I'm not.

"I've had to kind of understand that over the past couple of years, and I'm more comfortable with that right now because of the guys we have in the room [and] their ability. Like Noah (Gray), (Jared) Wiley's doing a great job right now. Obviously, we brought in Irv (Smith Jr.). We've got a lot of great tight ends in the building. It's fun seeing them have success as well. Their skill sets are top tier, so we have a lot of success and we have a lot of trust in the guys in the building for sure."

Kelce's production slipped in his age-34 season, at least partially due to his injuries. Had he logged one more game than his 15 played, he likely would've extended his 1,000-yard receiving streak and perhaps avoided matching his lowest touchdown total in half a decade. Instead, he played through the pain and then rested during Week 18. The trade-off was worth it come playoff time (32 receptions for 355 yards and three scores), but it was present nonetheless.

Thanks to the additions of Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Xavier Worthy, the Chiefs may be in a better position this time around. It could take some pressure off Kelce and it certainly gives opposing defenses someone else to account for. It's possible that with improved surrounding talent, Kelce will enjoy a rebound year.

He doesn't necessarily believe last year was taxing on him, though. Either way, he's mentally prepared to do whatever he can to help Kansas City win.

"Wear and tear me, baby," Kelce said. "I'm ready for it. Put the load on me. I love being accountable for the men and women in this building and Chiefs Kingdom. I love the aspect of everybody counting on me to try and make that play for the team and just do the right things out there on the field [out of] better judgment for the team. I don't think anything from last year put more miles on me [or] made me less of a player. I think all in all, it was focus, being my worst critic and capitalizing in situations I should've."

Read More: Jared Wiley Is Ahead of Travis Kelce’s Rookie Self in One Key Area


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Jordan Foote

JORDAN FOOTE

Jordan Foote is the deputy editor of Arrowhead Report on SI.com, covering the Kansas City Chiefs. He also hosts the One Royal Way podcast on Kansas City Sports Network. Jordan is a Baker University alumnus, earning his degree in Mass Media. Follow him on X @footenoted.