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Pondering the unthinkable: End could be near for Kelce, Fletch and B.G.

Pondering the unthinkable: End could be near for Kelce, Fletch and B.G. originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

They've played 576 games. And been on the field for 27,941 snaps. And made 14 Pro Bowls.

For more than a decade, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham have embodied everything it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle.

It’s hard to imagine this franchise without them. Really, it's impossible.

Last time the Eagles played a football game without at least one of those guys on the roster was the 2009 wild-card loss in Dallas. The Donovan banjo game.

That’s how long these guys have been a part of this organization, this city, this community.

So many of us have grown up with Kelce, Fletch and B.G. 

If you were 14 when B.G. was a rookie, you’re 27 now. If you were in 3rd grade when Kelce was a rookie, you’re a junior in college. If you were starting a new job when Cox first played here, you’re now near the top in seniority.

The Eagles have played 1,287 games in their history. Either Kelce, Cox or Graham has played in 18 percent of them.

Nobody has played more games in franchise history than these three.

But it could all be ending Monday.

Here’s the thing: All three can still play. The question with Kelce is does he want to play a 14th season. The question with Cox is can the Eagles pay him enough to keep him. The question with B.G. is do the Eagles want to run it back with a 36-year-old edge rusher.

Let’s start with Kelce.

He just made his sixth all-pro team, making him only the fifth center in NFL history to achieve the highest honor an active player can receive. He’s got a ton of outside interests, he’s already on the networks’ radar when it comes to broadcasting, he co-hosts the most popular sports podcast in the U.S. and the minute he retires he’ll have unlimited opportunities to do whatever he wants to do next.

His body has been bruised, battered and broken down from playing virtually every snap of every game. He’s had so many injuries he can’t even keep track of them. He’s got two young kids at home and he’s made over $81 million. He’s already in the Hall of Fame. He no longer needs more Pro Bowls or All-Pros to lock it up.

Kelce is still playing at an extraordinary level, and he’ll be here as long as he wants to be. He told me a couple years ago he doesn’t play for the accolades and he doesn’t play for the money. He plays for one reason: To be a part of a brotherhood that can achieve remarkable things through teamwork. He said when he wakes up in the morning and doesn’t want to go to do this anymore, he’ll stop.

Maybe he’s not at that point yet. But he’s 36, he plays an incredibly physical position, he’s had more injuries than he’s ever let on, and there’s a real possibility Monday night will be his last game in an Eagles uniform.

Cox is different. He wants to keep playing, and he’s still very good. He’s enjoyed a career renaissance the last two years and even at 33 he was the Eagles’ best defensive lineman this year. The Eagles nearly lost him in the spring of 2022 – they cut him and quickly re-signed him. But Fletch isn’t one to give out a hometown discount, either. The Eagles have a couple young 1st-round interior linemen who need to be the future of the position. Howie Roseman has to figure out the best use of his cap space, how much a 34-year-old Cox is worth and whether it makes sense to bring him back for a 14th season.

B.G. wants to play one more season and he was effective this year as a role player. Pro Football Focus graded him as the Eagles’ highest-rated edge rusher in pressure, tackling and run defense. But he’ll be 36 this spring, Nolan Smith’s snaps have to increase dramatically next year, the Eagles could very well select another edge early in the draft and we all know the defense has to get younger. Roseman may not want B.G. back.

Maybe they’ll all be here in 2024. Maybe one or two of them will.

But there’s a very real possibility this is it for three all-time Eagles greats. That if the Eagles lose Monday night, it won’t be the end of an era. It will be the end of three eras.

They’re leaders. They’re superstars. They're inspirations. They're heroes. They're champions.

They always will be.