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Is Travis Kelce the best tight end in NFL history?

The Chiefs Pro Bowler is easily the best tight end in the current NFL, but how does he stack up all-time? We take a look going into Super Bowl 57.

Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs participates in practice prior to Super Bowl LVII at Arizona State University on February 08, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. The Kansas City Chiefs play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up to play in Super Bowl 57 against the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Chiefs have several stars on their roster, one that sticks out is tight end Travis Kelce. He has logged seven straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. When people are discussing the Chiefs' potential dynasty, Kelce has played his role in his team’s success.

Kansas City drafted Kelce in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played his college ball at Cincinnati alongside his brother Jason Kelce in his first two collegiate seasons. Travis wasted little time in making an impact with the Chiefs. He had 67 receptions on 87 targets for 862 yards with five touchdowns. Kelce has now been in the league for nine years, and his worst overall season was that rookie year.

Kelce has played in 143 career games with 814 receptions for 10,344 yards and 69 touchdowns. He has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the last eight seasons. Kelce has been named a First-Team All-Pro four times (2016, 2018, 2020, 2022) and a Second-Team All-Pro three times (2017, 2019, 2021). He holds five NFL records and won Super Bowl LIV with Kansas City.

Kelce has quite the resume he has built and is only 33 years old. You could make an argument that he is one of the best ever, but I don’t think he has quite reached the best of all-time. Tony Gonzalez still leads all tight ends in history with 270 games played and 15,127 yards with 111 touchdowns. Jason Witten has played the most ever games as a tight end with 271 and amassed 13,046 yards and 74 touchdowns in his career. Antonio Gates played in 236 games and sits just ahead of Kelce with 10,344 career yards but has the record for touchdowns by a tight end with 116.

Even a win in Super Bowl 57 wouldn’t necessarily automatically vault Kelce above Witten or Gates and certainly not Gonzalez. Kelce almost controls his own destiny. He hasn’t really given any hints that he is thinking about hanging up the cleats in retirement, but it isn’t out of the question. Rob Gronkowski has retired twice and is younger than Kelce. The reason Gonzalez has such a lead on the other tight ends is that he played 17 seasons. Gates played 16 seasons and retired at age 39. Witten logged 17 total seasons and also two retirements. Kelce is obviously off to an incredible start and is the best tight end in today’s game. He certainly has the ability and the supporting cast to surpass all the records for a tight end, but it just depends on how long he is thinking of playing.