On Monday, NFL.com writers Ali Bhanpuri and Tom Blair took a shot at a rather unusual offseason list: the top NFL players over 30.
To be considered for the list, players have to be at least 30 years of age when the season begins on September 10. Players who have opted out of the 2020 season (or who missed significant playing time in 2019) were not eligible.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward top the list — along with two Kansas City Chiefs.
14. Mitchell Schwartz, Chiefs right tackle, 30 years old
Tom Blair: Winning a Super Bowl must taste even sweeter when you broke into the NFL with the Browns. Here’s guessing the former second-round pick by Cleveland does not regret signing with the Chiefs in 2016. PFF’s fourth-best graded tackle (minimum of 800 snaps) was the only tackle who logged 600-plus pass-blocking snaps without allowing a single sack in 2019. Whether he earns another extension from the Chiefs remains to be seen, but for the next two years at least, Schwartz will continue to be a mainstay of one of the league’s most prolific offenses.
For his entire career, Schwartz hasn’t received the credit he deserves. It’s hard to think of a player who has been more reliable (and productive) over such a long period of time — first for the Browns and now for the Chiefs. But whom are we kidding? Offensive linemen seldom get the credit they deserve. Schwartz’s presence on this list suggests that he may end up being a player who will be better-appreciated after his career ends. If that turns out to be the case — and even if it doesn’t — the Chiefs were both wise to sign him and lucky to have him.
6. Travis Kelce, Chiefs tight end, 30 years old
Tom Blair: Is there a better way for a tight end to forge into his 30s than as a favorite target of one of the most electrifying quarterbacks the game has ever seen? Let everyone go (understandably) gaga over hot young name George Kittle; Kelce is a key piece of an all-world offense on a team where the coach and once-in-a-lifetime-signal-caller are preternaturally aligned. Consider Kelce’s numbers with Mahomes so far: Over the past two seasons, Kelce ranks seventh in the NFL targets (286), seventh in catches (200), fifth in receiving yards (2,565) and fourth in receiving first downs (133). He was already 23 when he entered the NFL, so Kelce got a bit of a late start compared to luminaries like Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (who entered the NFL as a 21-year-old) and Jason Witten (drafted at 20), but even so, if he manages to produce at this rate with Mahomes for the duration of his career, Kelce should be able to challenge the current all-time career receiving marks for tight ends. That presumes, of course, Kelce stays healthy — and that he and the Chiefs are able to agree on a new deal after his current one runs out after 2021.
Finally! A list of players where Kelce is listed ahead of Kittle, who will be just 26 when the season begins.
Seriously, though... unlike Schwartz, Kelce has had plenty of accolades in his career; it’s just that there’s always been another tight end most would rank ahead of him. But at least this time, Kelce doesn’t have to worry about Kittle — or about Rob Gronkowski, who didn’t play in 2019. For those other lists, let’s see what happens when Kelce collects his NFL-record fifth-consecutive 1,000-yard season.