As the Green Bay Packers attempt to resolve their rift with franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, two young arms will get an opportunity this weekend to earn a place in their 2021 plans.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Packers will be hosting quarterback Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert “on a tryout basis” at this weekend’s rookie minicamp, where they will each have a chance to compete for one of the two remaining spots on their 90-man offseason roster.
The Packers evaluating another pair of quarterbacks is hardly a surprise after general manager Brian Gutekunst promised the team would look to add a “third arm” to their roster before the start of 2021 training camp. While their desire to add a tested veteran could change depending on Rodgers’ status, they only have two rostered quarterbacks between him and 2020 first-round Jordan Love and rarely stay under three for long in the offseason.
“We’ll have a third arm, and maybe a fourth arm as we go through,” Gutekunst told reporters May 1 following the end of the 2021 NFL draft. “We’ve kind of had some conversations before the draft with some veterans and then some rookie guys we’re looking at as well. But we would never go into camp with two. We’ll at least have three, maybe four.”
The Packers’ rookie minicamp is scheduled to run Friday and Saturday, May 14-15.
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Kelly Was ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ in 2017 Draft Class
Kelly’s football path has been interesting since coming out of Ole Miss four years ago. The Denver Broncos made him “Mr. Irrelevant” when they selected him with the final pick of the 2017 NFL draft, while his on-field performance has only reinforced that reputation with just one game in four NFL seasons.
Kelly missed his entire rookie season in 2017 with a wrist injury he sustained before the Broncos drafted him but managed to win the backup job behind Case Keenum coming out of 2018 training camp. His time in that role, however, was cut short halfway into the season when he was arrested on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespassing for entering a couple’s home in suburban Denver.
The Broncos swiftly released him, and he later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree criminal trespassing, which resulted in one year of supervised probation and 50 hours of community service. He has spent portions of the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, but his lone NFL contribution remains a single kneel-down for the Broncos in Week 6 of the 2018 season.
Benkert’s career has been less complicated. After going undrafted in 2018, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons and spent three seasons as a member of their practice squad; though, he spent all of 2019 on injured reserve with a preseason toe injury. Benkert had originally signed a reserve/future contract with the Falcons in January, but they waived him in February with Matt Ryan and A.J. McCarron both coming back.
Jordan Love Not Eligible for Rookie Minicamp
The Packers haven’t been given a ton of opportunities to work with Love since they took him with the No. 26 overall selection in the 2020 draft. His first offseason consisted of virtual classroom work, a reduced training-camp slate and zero preseason games, while he also saw no actual playing time in the regular season or postseason as the third-string option behind Rodgers and former backup Tim Boyle.
In other words, whatever additional time they can spend with him coming into a 2021 season will be valuable, especially if their dispute with Rodgers results in Love becoming their starting quarterback this year. Unfortunately, while some non-rookies —like Kelly and Benkert or practice-squad players — are can participate in rookie minicamps for teams, Love is not eligible despite no live reps on his record.