The Green Bay Packers are having themselves a busy Wednesday.
According to Tom Pelissero, the Packers have agreed to terms with former Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly on a one-year contract, a move that comes less than an hour after Pelissero reported Green Bay would be sending a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans to re-acquire veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb.
Kelly, who turns 32 in January, started every game at right tackle for the Titans during the 2020 season, playing more than 1,000 offensive snaps and allowing no sacks while also limiting his penalties to two. He also caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill in the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs two postseasons ago.
Adding Kelly to the roster gives the Packers an additional veteran to help fortify the edges of their offensive line in the event that All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari has not fully recovered from his ACL tear before the start of the 2021 season. The Packers have Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner holding down the tackle spots for now, but their depth behind them is limited to third-year Yosh Nijman (no snaps played), Ben Braden (more of a guard) and rookies Royce Newman and Cole Van Lanen.
From a seasonlong perspective, the Packers also gain a valuable swing tackle who can become their top rotational guy once Bakhtiari has rejoined the lineup. They might even decide to move Turner, who played right guard all of the 2019 season, back inside if Kelly seems capable of excelling at the right-tackle spot.
Kelly’s signing has not yet been officially announced, but a corresponding roster move will not be necessary with three spots (two once Cobb takes one) currently available.
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Kelly Could Be Perfect Rotational Piece
With Kelly’s addition, the Packers have now addressed one of the bigger personnel concerns on their roster as they look forward to the month of camp ahead. Bakhtiari is unquestionably a piece they want and need in their lineup, but there are no guarantees he will be ready to go in Week 1 given he sustained his ACL tear just seven months ago given recovery time is typically around nine months (or the end of September).
The 6-foot-8, 321-pound Kelly might not be comparable to an elite-caliber player such as Bakhtiari, but he certainly creates more options for the Packers when they go to determine the Opening Day alignment of their offensive line. He was one of the pieces that helped pave the way for Derrick Henry’s 2,000-yard season with the Titans in 2020. He also comes with big-moment experience, having played for a team that reached the playoffs in three of their last four seasons.
That doesn’t mean Kelly comes without his concerns, though. He played well as a full-time starter for the Titans last year, but he hadn’t started more than six games since his rookie season in 2012 for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers might not mind given they likely envision him as a rotational guy once Bakhtiari is back in the fold, but there’s also health to worry about — like most linemen over the age of 30.
Fortunately, Kelly only missed six games over his five seasons with the Titans and comes with no alarming injury history like others before him.