Skip to main content

Travis Kelce reiterates he's playing 'until the wheels fall off,' ready for heavy workload in 2024: 'Wear and tear me, baby'

If Travis Kelce has learned anything from being around Taylor Swift, it's that playing the hits is a tried-and-true approach.

The Kansas City Chiefs tight end was asked about his football future and how much more he might have in the tank on Tuesday, echoing a statement he made roughly 11 months ago.

"I'm gonna do it until the wheels fall off," Kelce said Tuesday, "and hopefully that doesn't happen anytime soon. But I can definitely understand that it's (closer) toward the end of the road than it is the beginning of it, and I just gotta make sure I'm set up for after football, as well."

Things have changed since Kelce's first "wheels come off" quote, however. In late April, he signed a new two-year extension that made him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL by average salary.

Then again, his off-field opportunities also are peaking. Perhaps winning three Super Bowls, co-hosting a wildly popular podcast and dating Swift, the most famous pop singer in the world, have opened a few doors for the future Hall of Fame tight end.

It's not as if Kelce hasn't thought about the end of his playing days, especially with his brother, Jason, having walked away from the game this offseason after 13 seasons with the Eagles. But Travis Kelce is just enjoying the ride too much now to make a definitive plan for how he'll exit the game.

"At the same time, I'm a football player," Kelce said on Tuesday. "I love playing in the NFL. This will always be my main focus. But outside of that, football ends for everybody. So kind of dipping your toes in the water and seeing what you like in different areas and different career fields, I think (the) offseason is the best chance you can get to try to explore all that and set yourself up for after football."

Kelce will turn 35 this season. Rob Gronkowski famously retired before his age-30 season, later returning to play for two more years with Tom Brady in Tampa before walking away at 32. But other recent tight ends have been able to go beyond Kelce's current age and remain relevant.

Tony Gonzalez played right up to his 38th birthday. Jason Witten originally retired at 35 but came back after a year out of the game to play two more seasons, until he was 38. Antonio Gates also made it to his age-38 season. The Bears recently re-signed 40-year-old Marcedes Lewis.

Asked about the cumulative wear and tear to his body, Kelce plans to just shake it off.

"Wear and tear me, baby," he said. "I'm ready for it, man. Put the load on me.

"I love being accountable for the men and women in this building and (the) Chiefs Kingdom. I love the aspect of everybody counting on me to try and make that play for the team and just do the right things on the field and better judgment for the team. I don't think that anything from last year put more miles on me, made me less of a player. I think it was, all in all, it was just focus, being my own worst critic and capitalizing in situations that I should've."

Kelce sounds like a man willing to play it year by year at this point, even if he pushed back against the idea that 2024 might be his final season. Even with last season's statistical dip from his brilliant 2022 campaign, Kelce's wheels very much looked intact during a strong playoff performance (32 catches, 355 yards, three touchdowns) en route to a third Super Bowl title.

"I really can't put a timeframe on it, man," Kelce said. "I love coming to work every single day. Obviously, I know there's opportunities outside of football for me, and I think you've got to keep in perspective, I'm still a little kid when I come into this building, man.

"I know I'm 34 years old, about to be 35, but I have a love to do this right here in the middle of the heat in June. I love coming to work every single day and doing this."

Related Content