What’s Next? Eagles Offseason Plans Center Around Replacing Jason Kelce

It won't be easy to replace a six time All-Pro like Jason Kelce, but that's where the Eagles organization finds itself now.

The Jason Kelce era in Philadelphia has officially come to an end.

Now, general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni will have the unenviable task of trying to find the right replacement for a Hall of Fame center and city legend, both inside and outside of the locker room.

Today, we’ll look at where the Philadelphia Eagles turn to replace Kelce’s aura and skill set on the field.

Replacing Jason Kelce on the Field

Before free agency begins, the Eagles starting offensive line from left to right is projected to be ordered as such: Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Cam Jurgens, Tyler Steen, and Lane Johnson.

Mailata, Dickerson, and Johnson have been starters for several years now and should therefore be stabilizing forces thanks to their experience and talent level.

Who replaces Kelce at center, though, is the big question.

Curiously, the Eagles have been preparing for life after Kelce for a few years now. In 2022, the organization drafted a Nebraska center, Jurgens, thanks in large part to Kelce’s input. During the draft process, Kelce was quoted saying that Jurgens was “most like [him],” and that he had a hand in drafting him.

While the 24-year-old’s starting experience during the 2023 season came exclusively at guard, Jurgens is more of a center and should be able to pencil in as the starter in Week 1 of the 2024 season. That also means there could be a position battle at right guard going into training camp.

Tyler Steen, Philadelphia’s third-round pick from 2023 rarely saw the field last year but has enough upside to give the Eagles some depth at guard. The 2024 offensive line free agent class could also provide the organization some necessary relief should they look for a more veteran option.

Should Roseman and the front office go that route, it wouldn’t be the first time they have addressed the right guard position in free agency. In 2016, Philadelphia agreed to terms with guard Brandon Brooks on a four-year, $40 million deal. In 2011, the team also signed guard Evan Mathis to an eventual four-year extension after the former Panther developed into one of the top-ranked guards of his era.

It won’t be outlandish for the Eagles to try and acquire one of the free agent guards this offseason. Names such as the Baltimore Ravens’ John Simpson, the Los Angeles Rams’ Kevin Dotson, and the Green Bay Packers’ John Runyan Jr. could be of interest to the team.

While Kelce’s experience will be hard to replicate, it’s clear that there are several options for the Eagles to run with to replace an all-time great player.

Replacing Kelce’s Off-Field Impact

This is where Kelce’s retirement will be felt the most.

No current or former Eagle understood the way fans were like in the city and the style of play that fit best than Kelce. His leadership when speaking to the media or in the locker room is not easily replicated — if at all.

A big part of the Eagles’ 2023 late-season struggles came from coaching and leadership. That’s what happens when an organization drops six of its final seven games and gets blown out in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Calls for the head coach’s job, concern over the quarterback’s leadership style, and roster immaturity all have seemed to increase over the last few months — even with Kelce and many other veterans still a part of the team.

Kelce’s retirement, though, might be exactly what Philadelphia needs to transition its leadership to younger players.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been excellent as a starting quarterback for the Eagles but has had a more reserved role when it comes to leadership. With many veterans beginning to take that step into retirement, the Eagles need Hurts to be more vocal in the coming years. Further reports from the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets have confirmed this.

That’s not an indictment on Hurts at all. This is just a natural next step of the process for an organization with a franchise quarterback. The Pittsburgh Steelers did that with Ben Roethlisberger late in the 2000s and ended up winning a Super Bowl in 2008 because of it. Even the New England Patriots were able to succeed thanks to Tom Brady’s change in leadership from the 2000s to the 2010s.

MORE: 2024 NFL Top 100 Free Agent Rankings

Hurts changing his leadership style to fit what Philadelphia needs may be the only way the Eagles can successfully replicate what Kelce is leaving behind.

It certainly won’t be easy, but Kelce’s retirement now leaves the Eagles picking up pieces on how to replace a legend both on and off the field. While the organization has done well to prepare for this day, bigger questions must now be asked of the organization’s future.

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