Travis Kelce is still one of the best tight ends in the NFL at the age of 34. The crafty veteran still boasts solid hands, can still break tackles, and has an insane mind meld with QB Patrick Mahomes.

However, he isn't 100 percent of the athlete that he was earlier in his career. Kelce and the Chiefs are adapting their usage of Kelce knowing that he is getting up there in age.

The Athletic's Nate Taylor recently spoke with several members of the Chiefs organization, including Travis Kelce, about balancing his usage at this point in his career. Kelce defers to the coaching staff's decisions on how often to put him in the game.

“It’s my job to make sure coach (Andy) Reid has full confidence in me, whenever he needs me on the field, that I get my job done,” Kelce said. “As much as I want to be out there every single play, I understand that it’s for the betterment of the team when I’m not. I’ve had to kind of understand that over the past couple of years.”

It hasn't always been an easy conversation. Head coach Andy Reid limited Kelce's snaps in the first half of Super Bowl LVIII, which eventually drew a harsh response.

He replaced Kelce with Noah Gray on one red-zone play, where Isiah Pacheco fumbled the ball and led to a turnover. After the play, Kelce was seen screaming at Reid, repeatedly saying “Give me the f—ing ball!” Thankfully, Reid clearly has a plan for keeping Kelce fresh moving forward.

“I think if you manage Travis the right way, there’s still good production there,” Reid said in late February during the NFL combine. “I would be the first one to tell him if I didn’t think there was. We have to manage him the right way. The older the guys get, you can’t be in there every rep. I know you want to be, but you can’t. But you’re going to have a great fourth quarter, right?”

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce speaks on possible retirement from NFL

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is unable to catch a pass as it lands incomplete in the second quarter of the NFL Week 17
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

This all begs the question: how long will Kelce continue to play in the NFL? If you believe what Kelce says, he'll keep playing until he physically cannot anymore.

Kelce has consistently stated that he will play “until the wheels fall off,” a sentiment he recently repeated in a separate interview with Nate Taylor.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach believes that Kelce still has what it takes to play at a high level.

“The odds of someone playing this far into their 30s are very low, but it does happen,” Veach said of Kelce in late April. “It happens with just unicorns in the profession, and Travis is one of those. He’s shown no signs of slowing down.

“Everyone noticed the kind of postseason he had. He just found an extra gear. These special players are always able to find that extra gear. If anybody can do it, Travis can.”

Kansas City is smart to think carefully about Kelce's usage at this point in his career. The 34-year-old will be a crucial piece as the Chiefs attempt to win the Super Bowl for a third year in a row. If they can pull it off, they will have made NFL history as the first team to ever win the Lombardi Trophy three years in a row.