Browns Could Add Former $17 Million OT Amid Rash of Injuries

Dennis Kelly, Eagles

Getty Offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cleveland Browns pulled a rabbit out of their hat by signing veteran QB Joe Flacco, but it won’t matter all that much if they can’t keep him upright.

A rash of injuries has decimated Cleveland’s roster and no unit has had a worse go of it than the offensive line. Both starting tackles — Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. — are out for the season with knee injuries. Rookie Dawand Jones, who took over for Conklin in the first half of his first NFL game, is also on injured reserve for the remainder of 2023 with a torn MCL.

In the thick of a competitive AFC playoff race, the Browns have little choice but to scan free agency and add at least one more serviceable tackle to the roster. Bleacher Report’s NFL Staff suggested on Monday, December 11, that Cleveland bring in Dennis Kelly for the final four games of the season.

Geron Christian has attempted to play the role in Wills’ spot, but he’s already given up two sacks and earned a 57.4 grade from PFF through his first four games,” Bleacher Report wrote. “Dennis Kelly has been a swing tackle in the league a long time and might be worth consideration.”

Dennis Kelly Can Add Depth to Browns O-Line, Despite Career Decline Over Past Few Seasons

Dennis Kelly, Eagles

GettyOffensive tackle Dennis Kelly, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, plays in an NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Kelly is an 11-year NFL veteran who has appeared in 131 career games, including 54 starts. He has played stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets.

The offensive tackle signed his last big contract — a three-year, $17.25 million deal with the Titans — in March 2020. He re-signed with the Eagles in July before landing with the Jets. He appeared in one game with New York, exclusively playing special teams, before the franchise released him on November 22.

Kelly will turn 34 years old in mid-January and hasn’t been a regular starter since 2020. However, he did play in 26 games over the previous two seasons combined, starting seven of those contests, and could add depth to a Browns’ offensive line that is in desperate need of it.

James Hudson III is starting opposite Christian, while Leroy Watson IV is the only backup tackle currently on the active roster.

Browns Injuries Could Cost Team Year of Top Defense, Joe Flacco Resurgence

Joe Flacco

GettyCleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco warms up before starting an NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in December 2023.

The Browns’ offensive line remains solid up the middle but is vulnerable to the pass-rush due to all the injuries.

Flacco has been found money in Cleveland, helping the Browns to an 8-5 record after leading the team past the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14. Cleveland will host the resurgent Chicago Bears on December 17 who have won three of their last four contests but, nevertheless, continue struggling to pressure opposing quarterbacks. The Bears are currently 31st in the NFL with 21 sacks.

The Browns may be able to get away with a lack of experience on the edge of the offensive line next week, but the defenses get tougher after that. Cleveland finishes the year with games against the Houston Texans, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns will need to address the tackle position in one way or another before the stretch run or risk wasting a comeback year from Flacco and one of the better NFL defenses in recent memory.

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