The 13-year veteran tight end and consummate good guy, Reggie Kelly, has finally found a home to stage the final portion of his career -- and it happens to be where his NFL career was born. According to his Twitter account, Kelly is re-joining the Atlanta Falcons.
How bout dem Falcons:)
Drafted out of Mississippi State in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by Atlanta, Kelly will be returning to the Falcons, backing up future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Kelly has quietly made a solid NFL career for himself. He was picked up by Cincinnati in free agency back in 2003 during head coach Marvin Lewis' inagural season and stuck with the team for eight years. It was a little surprising that the team re-signed Kelly to a one-year deal following a major achilles injury in 2009, months after the team drafted Jermaine Gresham in the first round.
But, it was Kelly's professionalism, character and steady play that made him a favorite in the Bengals' locker room. In watching HBO's Hard Knocks a couple of years ago, one could tell how much that the team relied on Kelly to mentor his teammates, as well as how much his coaches and teammates admired him.
Recently, Kelly had a workout with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was reported that he was offered a contract for the veteran minimum from the team, but he subsequently declined the offer (thankfully). Rumors began to float around that he was contemplating retirement, but Kelly also denied that claim via Twitter. It didn't seem that there was much interest in the tight end outside of the Steelers until the Falcons came calling.
Kelly wasn't just a favorite amongst the Bengals internally, he was a cult fan favorite as well. Though he never made spectacular plays for the offense, the team relied on him to protect Carson Palmer, as well as an outlet receiver when plays broke down. Palmer continually praised Kelly's work ethic and value to the team, which we feel was just echoing the locker room as whole.
So, we at Cincy Jungle congratulate Reggie Kelly. It's great to see such a quality guy land on his feet and get another chance. Atlanta is considered a contending team this year, so if the Bengals are unable to win the Super Bowl this season, it'd be nice to see the Falcons win one so Reggie can ride off into the sunset and call it a solid NFL career.