By and large, Atlanta Falcons fans were dismayed when the organization released former undrafted free agent quarterback Kurt Benkert in February, much as they were when he was waived last September. But he could be back in the league sooner rather than later, assuming all goes well this weekend. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, Benkert has been invited to Green Bay’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis (along with former Denver Broncos seventh-round pick Chad Kelly).
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Per Rob Demovsky, staff writer for ESPN, Benkert and Kelly are expected to be the only quarterbacks on hand for the minicamp (Friday and Saturday, May 14-15), as QB Jordan Love—Green Bay’s first-round pick in 2020—is not eligible to participate. Love is one of only two Packers QBs currently on the team’s roster, with starter and perennial league MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers currently embroiled in an ongoing conflict with the organization, one that could lead to a holdout, a trade, or possibly even Rodgers’ retirement.
Rodgers’ situation aside, Green Bay is certain to add at least one—and possibly two quarterbacks—to its roster prior to training camp, so there’s a decent chance that Benkert will get to stick around. As such, it’s perhaps not surprising that the 25-year-old QB had just a one-word reply to Pelissero’s tweet:
Benkert and Kelly Compared
Kurt Benkert—6-foot-4 and 230 pounds—came to Atlanta in the spring of 2018, signing as a rookie undrafted free agent after a season at Virginia in which he broke school records in passing yards (3,207) and completions (298), not to mention the most yards passing in a single game (455, against Connecticut). He went on to spend the 2018 season and most of the 2020 season on the Falcons’ practice squad, activated for one game last year (vs. New Orleans, Week 11). In 2019, he spent the year on injured reserve after he suffered a toe injury during the preseason.
Initially it was thought he’d be back in Atlanta for 2021, as he was signed to a Reserve/Future contract in January. But that was before the arrival of new general manager Terry Fontenot and new head coach Arthur Smith, who moved on from him on the same day they released veteran safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey.
As for Chad Kelly—6-foot-2 and 216 pounds—he is the nephew of former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who starred for Buffalo between 1986-96, earning Pro Bowl honors five times and taking the Bills to four Super Bowls. Chad set 25 school records during his 22-game career at Ole Miss yet was the very last pick in the 2017 NFL Draft (Mr. Irrelevant), as he had surgery on his throwing wrist just weeks before the event. He also had two ACL injuries in four years at college, as well as a meniscus injury. Like Benkert, he has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game, having most recently spent time on the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts.
Atlanta’s Current QB Situation
At the moment, the Falcons currently have two quarterbacks behind Matt Ryan, those being A.J. McCarron (Bengals, Raiders, Texans) and rookie undrafted free agent Feleipe Franks, the latter of whom has been described as “very talented and very raw.” McCarron was signed during the 2021 draft to be Ryan’s backup.
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