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December 21, 2016

Eagles stay or go: Centers

Eagles NFL
122116JasonKelce Chris Szagola/AP

Jason Kelce's heiny is the only one Carson Wentz has known in the NFL.

The 2016 Philadelphia Eagles season is essentially over, so with two games remaining, we'll continue to look ahead to the offseason. As a starting point, let's take a look at each position and figure out which players will be back in 2017. Today we'll look at the centers.

In case you missed our previous positional previews:

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers
 Tight ends | Offensive tackles | Guards

Jason Kelce

On the downside, Kelce has committed a somewhat alarming number of penalties, he has had more than his share of bad shotgun snaps, and will often struggle against bigger DTs. Additionally, if the Eagles were to cut or trade Kelce next offseason, they would save $3,800,000 of his $6,200,000 cap number in 2017.

Kelce is ninth-highest paid center in the NFL, according to

Player Team Avg./Year
Travis Frederick Cowboys $9,400,000
Alex Mack Falcons $9,000,000
Mike Pouncey Dolphins $8,950,000
Rodney Hudson Raiders $8,900,000
Maurkice Pouncey Steelers $8,827,325
Ryan Kalil Panthers $8,375,000
Nick Mangold Jets $7,725,000
Max Unger Saints $7,416,667
Eric Wood Bills $6,350,000
Jason Kelce Eagles $6,277,833
Ben Jones Titans $4,375,000

Kelce has not played like one of the top ten centers in the NFL over the last two years.

Those are all good reasons to move on from Kelce this offseason, however, there are also plenty of reasons to keep him as well. 

To begin, while he struggles at times, Kelce can do things that no other center in the league can do. For example, Kelce's game against the Seahawks a month ago was basically a long highlight reel of excellent center play.

Building a starting five along the offensive line isn't easy. When you factor in that at some point you're likely going to lose a starter or two during the season, the number of offensive linemen you have who can play at the NFL level becomes extremely important. Kelce isn't without his faults, but cutting him would help deplete the Eagles' offensive line depth.

If you move Isaac Seumalo into Kelce's spot, for example, your offensive line would look like this:

 Jason PetersAllen Barbre Isaac Seumalo Brandon Brooks Lane Johnson 

On paper, that looks like a perfectly good starting five, however, you seriously compromise your depth by forcing either Allen Barbre or Seumalo -- both players who can play at least four positions -- into the starting lineup. Ideally, one of those guys could be your versatile "sixth man."

At a savings of just under $4 million, moving on from Kelce just isn't worth it at this time for a player who does offer some attractive qualities, and gives you one additional player on your line.

The tea leaves say that Kelce will be around at least one more year. When asked what Seumalo's best position is, offensive coordinator Frank Reich replied, "I think originally we drafted him to play guard in the short term." Depending on your definition of "short term," my guess is that Seumalo's potential move to center (his primary position in college at Oregon State) won't happen until 2018.

In 2018, Kelce will count for $7,200,000 against the cap, $6,000,000 of which the Eagles would save if they traded or released him. While it makes sense to keep him around for one more year in 2017, it would probably take a Pro Bowl-worthy type of season to retain him at that number.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Josh Andrews

Andrews is under contract through the 2017 season. In 2016, he has been inactive on game day for almost the entirety of the season. The Eagles like Andrews because he has guard/center versatility, and he'll count for just $615,000 against the cap in 2017. There's no reason not to bring Andrews to training camp, but the Eagles will ideally have found a player in the draft that they can begin to develop instead.

#JimmyVerdict: No need to release before training camp, but ideally the Eagles will have found an upgrade.

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

Green = Stay

Orange = No need to release before training camp, but ideally the Eagles will have found an upgrade

Red = Go

 QBCarson Wentz Chase Daniel    
 RBRyan Mathews Darren Sproles Wendell Smallwood Kenjon Barner  
 WRJordan Matthews Nelson Agholor Dorial Green-Beckham Bryce Treggs Paul Turner 
 TEZach Ertz Brent Celek Trey Burton   
 LTJason Peters Matt Tobin Dillon Gordon   
 LGAllen Barbre Stefen Wisniewski    
 CJason Kelce Josh Andrews    
 RGBrandon Brooks Isaac Seumalo    
 RTLane Johnson Halapoulivaati Vaitai    
 Head coach     
 Defensive coordinator     

And yes, for the record, I realize there's probably more green than you'd expect from a 5-9 team.

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