MOBILE, Ala. - While Jason Kelce is preparing for his second career Pro Bowl, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was being asked about the center's future.
Kelce, 29, has been with the Eagles since 2011, but will have a salary cap hit of $6.2 million. Cutting or trading Kelce would save $3.8 million in cap space for a team that doesn't have much of it. Recently, PhillyVoice.com reported that the Eagles were considering moving on from their longtime center.
"He's going to the Pro Bowl," Roseman said on Wednesday afternoon, when asked to evaluate Kelce's play in 2016. "His peers had him as a second-team alternate and that shows you the kind of respect he's had in this league. He just turned 29 years old, so we're not talking about a guy who's 35, 36 or older than that. You see his ability to play in space, his explosiveness and an ultimate team guy. So I don't think when you put on the tape you see any decline in play from Jason Kelce."
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After praising Kelce, Roseman was asked flatly if he expected the center to be back for the 2017 season and was noncommittal. If Roseman is hoping to find a trade partner for Kelce, praising him would make a lot of sense.
"I think we'd like to have every single player back on our team," Roseman said. "We just talked about a guy that made the Pro Bowl. So, I mean, those are good situations for the Philadelphia Eagles to have Pro Bowl players, but it's hard to go into each individual player. And I'm not saying this as it relates to Kelce, but if I start answering a question on Jason Kelce, that opens the door to five or six other guys and I don't think that's fair to anyone on this team."
If the Eagles were to move on from Kelce, it would seem likely that Isaac Seumalo, a third-round pick from 2016, would be the guy to take his place.
In November, Kelce gave a very honest assessment of his play, saying if he didn't start to play better, he thought he could become expendable.
The Eagles are facing several tough decisions about aging veterans with inflated salary cap numbers; Kelce is just one of them. And Roseman's specialty for a long time has been finding ways to manipulate the salary cap in the team's favor.
"We've been going over our cap situation over the course of the year and certainly throughout the offseason as we sit here," he said. "None of these conversations are new internally. We've had them. But at the same time, it's our job to make tough decisions and make sure they're not emotional, but they're the best for the Philadelphia Eagles going forward."