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Packers will sign OT Dennis Kelly to shore up offensive line

With David Bakhtiari out for now and little veteran depth at tackle, Green Bay looked outside the organization for help.

NFL: AFC Championship-Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With David Bakhtiari starting training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, the Green Bay Packers rolled Elgton Jenkins out as the first-team left tackle in Wednesday’s opening practice. That plan may not need to be a long-term one, however, as the team is acquiring a veteran offensive tackle to provide quality depth at a position where the team has relied heavily on versatility to patch holes in recent years.

Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports that the Packers are signing tackle Dennis Kelly, an nine-year NFL veteran. The 31-year-old Kelly was a 5th-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, for whom he started ten games as a rookie, and he started all 16 games for the Tennessee Titans last season, with most of his action coming at right tackle. Kelly reportedly did not allow a sack in over 1,000 snaps on offense in 2020.

Between those two seasons, Kelly has generally spent his career as a backup swing tackle. From 2013 to 2019, he played in 75 games but started just 21 of them. Kelly also has familiarity with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur; the two were together in Tennessee for the 2018 season, when LaFleur was the Titans’ offensive coordinator.

Kelly’s contract history has been an odd one, however. During 2015, Kelly signed a one-year contract extension for 2016 and signed another one-year extension during the 2016 season, but was traded to Tennessee during training camp for wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. He would then sign a two-year extension before 2017’s training camp to lock him in with the Titans through 2019 before inking a 3-year, $17.25 million deal last offseason to stay in Tennessee once again. However, the Titans cut him this March after just one year under that deal.

Now Kelly comes to Green Bay on a one-year deal, likely for the veteran minimum salary. He will likely play a similar role to that of Rick Wagner a year ago, serving as a reliable offensive tackle who can fill in on either side of the line in case of injury.

As an added bonus, Kelly has a pair of receiving touchdowns on his career stat line, having caught a pair of one-yard scores from Ryan Tannehill in the 2019 season. The first game in a 42-20 regular season win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the second game in the 2019 AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.