Philadelphia Eagles: If Kelce retires, Isaac Seumalo must step up his game

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

If Jason Kelce opts to retire after the Philadelphia Eagles’ season, Isaac Seumalo will have to seriously step up his game to fill the All-Pro’s cleats.

As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to take on the New Orleans Saints in a divisional round showdown for the ages, another name has been surprisingly added to the now sizeable list of ‘Last Dance’ players hoping to don a midnight green jersey (or in this case white) one last time.

That player is Jason Kelce.

That’s right, according to Jimmy Kempski of, rumor has it that people close to the elder Kelce brother believe that this may be Jason’s final rodeo in the NFL, as he’s preparing for life after football a whole lot sooner than anyone in the City of Brotherly Love would have hoped.

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And it simply cannot be understated just how much of a loss the ‘undersized center’ would be to the Eagles offense moving forward.

Standing 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, Kelce is among the lightest offensive lineman in the entire league, but still finished out the season as Pro Football Focus‘ top-ranked regular season center with an 84.9 OFF grade, nearly five points higher than the next best center.

But those numbers don’t tell the full story. You see, Kelce is vital to the Eagles offensive game, calling outline changes before the ball is snapped and ‘pulling’ on absolutely deadly zone run plays. While he’s certainly getting up there in age at 31, Philly’s favorite Mummer remains the Eagles’ best offensive lineman, and would all but certainly still be if he played again in the back half of 2019.

However, if Kelce does decide to hang up his cleats when the season concludes, the pressure will seriously mount on the shoulders of third-year swingman Isaac Seumalo.

Initially drafted as the team’s ‘center of the future’, back when people still questioned Kelce’s ability to take on gigantic nose tackles one-on-one, Seumalo has only logged 33 snaps at his ‘native’ position in the NFL, spending the vast majority of his time lined up either at right tackle (148 snaps), right guard (138) or his current position left guard (838).

After spending the better part of three seasons fighting with Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack, and really anyone with a number between 60-80 for an opportunity to start with regularity, Seumalo finally became a full-time Eagles full-time left guard in Week 5, and his play has been… inconsistent to say the least.

In 14 games of action this season, Seumalo has only earned an offensive rating of 70 or higher twice, weirdly enough in the Birds’ Week 10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and the Birds’ other (Week 14) loss to the Dallas Cowboys for a  regular season 62.5 offensive rating.

Not great, but certainly better than the alternative.

For literally years now, fans have debated who’s a better left guard, Seumalo or Wiznewski, with neither side succeeding an inch even after the team won their first Super Bowl with Wiz to Kelce’s left.  However, so far this season, Seumalo has without a doubt been the better of the two. In Wiz’s seven starts of the season, he’s only averaged a 57 OFF rating, including a rock bottom 32 against the Los Angeles Rams, almost five points lower than Seumalo’s 61.7 in his 10 starts.

But regardless of which player ends up being the Eagles’ starting left guard next season, they are both noticeable downgrades from Kelce in the middle of the line. While Wiz certainly has the most experience of the two, having logged 64 starts at center over his seven-year NFL career, neither even comes close to Kelce’s athleticism on pulls, screens, or zone runs.

At 25, Seumalo still has some upside, as opposed to Wisnewski, who is pretty much tapped out at 30. If he can figure things out and go from being a below average starting guard to an above average starting center, it could go a long way to helping the Philadelphia Eagles weather the loss of generational centers like Jason Kelce after a pair of postseason runs. If not, well, interior offensive line has to be the team’s number one priority this offseason, both in free agency and in the 2019 NFL Draft.  My personal favorites include Matt Paradis from the Denver Broncos, and Garrett Bradbury from NC State.

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