Eagles willing to wait for decisions from Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox

Eagles willing to wait for decisions from Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

INDIANAPOLIS — Free agency is around the corner. Then the draft. OTAs will be here before you know it. The NFL offseason is moving quickly.

And even though the Eagles still don’t know what the future holds for two all-time greats, they’re willing to be patient as Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox contemplate their football futures.

“Obviously, those guys are unbelievable players, unbelievable people, and they deserve the right to decide what's best for them,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said on Tuesday from the NFL Combine. “We'll wait and give them whatever time and space they need to make the right decisions.

“I think the important thing from our perspective is you never want to see them wearing different colors. I think for us, no matter when that is, if they want the opportunity to come back, we'd want to have the opportunity to bring them back.”

The longest-tenured Eagles player is Brandon Graham, who has already publicly said he wants to return for a 15th and final season. That will require a new contract but it’s likely to get done.

As for the second- and third-longest tenured players in the organization? It seems like both are flirting with the thought of retirement.

Kelce, 36, has been contemplating his football future after each of the last few seasons. He got drafted in the sixth round back 2011 and has now played 13 seasons in the NFL. He elected to return in 2023 after the Eagles came close to winning Super Bowl LVII.

Even though Kelce has played a ton of games and will turn 37 during the 2024 season, he’s still playing at an extremely high level. He is coming off another All-Pro season and has been an All-Pro in six of the last seven seasons. If he’s not still the best center in the NFL, he’s darn close.

As for Cox, he might no longer be at his peak but the 33-year-old had another successful season. The 2012 first-round pick followed up a seven-sack season in 2022 with a 5-sack season in 2023 and was the Eagles’ most consistent defensive tackle despite a couple of first-round picks in the mix.

After the season ended, one of his young teammates, Jordan Davis, made it seem like Cox would definitely not be returning. And a few feet away, Cox’s locker had been completely cleaned out.

In 2023, Kelce returned on a one-year deal worth $14.25 million. Cox returned on a one-year deal worth $10 million. If Kelce and/or Cox return, they’re certainly not going to get paid any less after their performances on those one-year deals and because the league-wide salary cap got a huge bump.

In the past, Roseman has warned against sentimentality. A team has to avoid the trap of paying players for what they have done instead of what they can still do. But with both Kelce and Cox, they still have ability if they want to keep playing.

It always stung the Eagles to watch a great like Brian Dawkins finish his career in Denver. They want to avoid that kind of fate with both of these guys. While it seems extremely unlikely Kelce would ever play for another team, Cox flirted with the idea last offseason before returning to the Eagles.

For reference, Kelce announced his decision to return for a 13th season last year on March 13 to kick off the free agency period. So it’s probably fair to assume we’ll hear something within the next couple of weeks.

While the Eagles won’t rush these decisions, it would help to know. Free agency kicks off next month and the draft is at the end of April. There will be no deadline or ultimatum but the sooner these decisions are made, the better.

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