PHILADELPHIA - It's a year-by-year proposition for Jason Kelce these days and the Eagles veteran Pro Bowl center ended any speculation for 2021 on Friday, agreeing to come back for another season and bridge the Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni eras as the leader on Philadelphia's offensive line.
According to NFL Media, Kelce agreed on a new deal for 2021 which will pay him $9 million fully guaranteed at signing and include escalators that could push that number to as high as $12M.
Kelce himself announced the decision to return on his Instagram page:
"Man, the first week of March 2021 is one for the record books!!!! Got to welcome baby #2 Elliotte Ray Kelce into the world, got my first dose of the Moderna Vaccine at the wonderful Puentes de Salud medical clinic, and restructured my contract to ensure I will continue to be the Center for the Philadelphia Eagles. 2021 already off to a better start!! The more people that get their #FauciOuchie, the sooner we get back to normal. Don’t let the name fool ya, #Elliotte is a girl.
#GoEagles couldn’t be more excited!!"
Kelce also spoke to the Eagles website about returning.
"I'm really fired up to be able to come back and play for the Eagles again," he said. "I've always said I'm playing until I'm not and I still have a very strong desire to play the game of football.
"I still want to do it. I still want to be around the guys. I want to be around the building, around the coaches. I still enjoy that aspect of it and I'm not ready to stop doing it yet. I'm excited with a lot of the energy going around right now and, also, I didn't want to end my career on a season like we had last year. It wouldn't feel right.
"I want to leave the Eagles knowing that I left it in good hands."
The 2021 season will be Kelce's 11th in the NFL after arriving as a lightly-touted sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati back in 2011. He's since developed into arguably the best center of his generation with four Pro Bowl berths and three All-Pro nods.
The fact that offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland is one of the two position coaches returning from Pederson's staff also factored into Kelce's decision to keep playing.
"That's big," said Kelce. "Obviously, Stout and I have an unbelievable relationship. This will be our ninth season together. I've been with him longer than pretty much anybody at this point in the football world.
"He means so much more to me than just as a coach – as a mentor, as a friend, as a person to guide me – I can't say enough about our relationship and how much he's meant to me not just as a coach but as a person."
Kelce is expected to anchor a strong line that figures to get Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, and Andre Dillard back from injuries and also reap the benefits of developing younger players like Jordan Mailata, Nate Herbig, and Jack Driscoll from last season.
"I think our offensive line, considering the circumstances, did pretty darn well last year," Kelce said. "We had a lot of young guys get playing time and there was a lot of learning on the job experience, which is hard to replicate. A lot of young guys showed what they can do – Jordan Mailata had a tremendous year, Nate Herbig I thought played really, really well.
"Matt Pryor has been very consistent for us and was able to go in and get the job done. Jack Driscoll as a rookie … All of this happened as we lost three guys who we expected to be starters and then went down (with injuries) – we lost Brandon Brooks before the season and he's been the best guard in the NFL the last few years, we lost Andre Dillard, we lost Lane Johnson, who was in and out of the lineup before going out for good halfway through the season with the ankle injury.
"I think the O line, quite honestly, is in a really, really good situation especially if everybody can come back healthy. We have a lot of depth, a lot of experience now with everybody having played for a full year. I consider it one of the strengths of this team, no doubt."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Thursday on The Middle with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, former Eagles OT Barrett Brooks streaming live on both PhillyVpice.com and SportsMap Radio. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.