Background: MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Jason Kelce #62, Brent Celek #87 and Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrate Ertz’s 11 yard touchdown against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Per Cardinals draft rumors which have been confirmed by ROTB Editor Seth Cox, the Arizona Cardinals were hoping to draft Nebraska center Cam Jurgens with their 2nd round pick (#55). Apparently the Cardinals have known for a few months that C Rodney Hudson has been mulling his retirement from the NFL.
Problem was the Philadelphia Eagles swooped in at pick #51 to select Jurgens as the heir apparent to perennial All-Pro Jason Kelce.
A little over a month before the draft, after Jason Kelce expressed his desire to play in 2022, the Eagles signed him to a contract extension that enabled them to manipulate the salary cap. Here are the details of the extension and the ways in which the Eagles worked the cap:
- Contract: 1 yr(s) / $9,000,000
- Average Salary: $9,000,000
- Total Guarantees: $9,000,000
- Guaranteed at Signing: $9,000,00
- Free Agent: 2023 / UFA
What the Eagles were likely thinking coming into the 2022 NFL Draft was to draft Jason Kelce’s successor with either one of their first round picks or with their 2nd round pick.
However, they first made a move up the draft board to select DT Jordan Davis from Georgia.
Then, much like the Cardinals did in using their 1st round pick to acquire WR Marquise Brown, the Eagles traded their other 1st round pick for WR A.J. Brown.
Those trades meant that if either team wanted to select Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, the #1 rated center, they would have had to find a way to trade back up into the 1st round.
As it turned out, both the Eagles and the Cardinals were high enough on Cam Jurgens, the consensus #2 center in the draft.
Now that the Eagles have Jurgens, which they couldn’t have been certain of before the draft, would they be interested in trading Kelce?
One of the Cardinals who could be a major catalyst in persuading Jason Kelce to play in Arizona is his former teammate TE Zach Ertz (pictured above during Super Bowl LII celebrating with Kelce after Ertz’s 11 yard 4th quarter TD).
First off, what the Cardinals would want to know from Kelce is whether he plans on retiring after this season. Kelce is 34 and this will be his 12th season in the NFL.
The thing is, though, despite his age and longevity, Kelce is showing little signs of decline in his play. Not only was he named to the All-Pro team in 2021, his 84.4 PFF grade was 3rd best in the NFL behind Creed Humphrey (91.4) and Corey Linsley (85.7). Furthermore, Kelce’s 89.4 run blocking grade in 2021 was second only to Humphrey (92.5).
If Kelce indicates that he is leaning toward retiring after this season, then that would affect the kind of compensation the Cardinals could offer in a trade. Typically players who are one year rentals are traded for a Day 3 pick.
However, if Zach Ertz is able to convince Jason Kelce to play with him in Arizona or the next 2-3 years, then the Cardinals could consider offering the Eagles one of their two 3rd round picks in 2023, if, perhaps, the Eagles would also be willing to add CB Tay Gowan to the package,
If Kelce is able to assure the Cardinals that he is interested in playing 2-3 more years, then the Cardinals could offer him what they were intending to pay Rodney Hudson, plus some added incentives.
The Eagles gave up a significant number of number of 2022 picks in order to trade up for DT Jordan Davis and trade for WR A.J. Brown. Picks 15, 18, 101, 124, 162, 166. This left the Eagles, like the Cardinals, with no 4th or 5th round picks in the 2022 draft.
Adding 2023 draft capital could be very appealing to the Eagles, in addition, of course, to saving $30M. They currently have 2 1st round picks (Saints), a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th, a 5th and a 7th (7 in total). For a team that might be looking to draft one of the top QBs in next year’s loaded NFL Draft at QB, the more draft capital, the better.
Jason Kelce, like Zach Ertz, is an icon in Philadelphia.
Eagles’ GM, Howie Roseman, has a track record of wanting to acquire as much draft capital as he possibly can, especially after he has drafted an heir apparent at a position, like he did when he drafted QB Carson Wentz and TE Dallas Goedert.
Perhaps even DT Fletcher Cox could be had in a trade this year, seeing as Roseman was able to draft Cox’s successor, Jordan Davis.
Therefore, Roseman, might be open to trading Jason Kelce to a center needy team, like the Cardinals or 49ers, if he gets the right kind of compensation.
As an aside, the Eagles’ number one 2022 WR target in free agency was Christian Kirk. When they weren’t able to close the deal with Kirk, they shifted their attention to trading for A.J., Brown (costing them picks #18-R1 and #101-R3).