Chad Kelly

Broncos Release QB Chad Kelly

Swag Kelly has been booted out of Denver. On Wednesday morning, the Broncos announced the release of the quarterback after a bizarre incident earlier in the week.

This was a decision that we made as an organization,” President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said in a statement. “After reviewing all the information and in talking with Vance (Joseph) and Joe (Ellis), we agreed that releasing Chad was the right thing to do. “Even though Chad’s no longer part of our team, we’ve offered to help him however we can and are supportive of him in every possible way.”

On Monday night, Kelly attended a Halloween party hosted by Broncos star Von Miller. At the event, Kelly began acting in an aggressive manner, prompting security to pull him aside in an effort to get him to calm down (via Mike Klis of 9News). The QB called an audible and ran off the property instead, which is where the trouble began.

Just after 1am, Kelly traipsed into the home of a family he did not know, and sat down next to a woman who was holding her young child. The woman called for a man in the house, who came out and struck Kelly with an aluminum vacuum tube. Kelly returned to the party as it was dissipating and police arrived soon after to apprehend him.

Kelly’s history of bizarre off-the-field behavior undoubtedly played a role in the Broncos’ decision. Just a couple of weeks ago, Kelly had a shot at overtaking Case Keenum as the Broncos’ starter. Now, he hopes that another team will give him a chance at redemption.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Police Arrest Broncos QB Chad Kelly

Broncos backup quarterback Chad Kelly was charged with first-degree criminal trespassing by police in Englewood, Colorado (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). The incident took place at 1:17am on Tuesday morning, and may result in serious legal consequences for the Ole Miss product. 

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Kelly was once considered to be one of the top QB prospects in the nation, but fell to the Broncos with the final pick in the 2017 draft due to character concerns. Naturally, the torn ACL and lateral meniscus that prematurely ended his senior season also played a role in his slide, but teams that would have still considered Kelly took him off of the board because of multiple red flags.

In 2014, Kelly was bounced from Clemson’s football program due to “conduct detrimental to the team.” Eight months later, he was arrested for allegedly punching a bouncer at a bar, threatening to open gun fire in said bar, and getting into fisticuffs with police upon his arrest. Kelly went from Clemson to Eastern Mississippi Community College to Ole Miss, and got into a brawl at a high school football game during his time with the Rebels.

There was a groundswell of fan support for Kelly to take the starting job from Case Keenum prior to the Broncos’ blowout of the Cardinals, but that seems extra unlikely to happen now. Depending on the specifics of the arrest, this could mark the end of Kelly’s time in Denver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Draft, Joseph, OL

Case Keenum‘s gotten off to a rough start with the Broncos, going from being the No. 1 DVOA quarterback during a potential outlier 2017 season to sitting 24th in that metric and 31st in Total QBR through five games this season. However, this is unlikely to produce a Chad Kelly promotion in the near future, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting the sense he’s getting is any such switch won’t come until the team falls out of contention. Denver won its first two games but has lost its past three, and Vance Joseph is now 1-9 on the road after the Broncos dropped Week 3 and Week 5 games in Baltimore and New Jersey. The Broncos may have discussed Kelly, who has never attempted a regular-season pass but fared well in the preseason. But Breer adds Joseph and John Elway are tied to Keenum thanks to the $25MM in fully guaranteed money the journeyman passer’s making on his current deal. Keenum’s on pace to throw more than 600 passes, and the Broncos have oddly turned to the weaker component of their offense more so than committing to their strong ground attack that ranks third (137 yards per game).

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • It’s likely Elway will have to look for yet another post-Peyton Manning solution in 2019, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The Broncos have cycled through an unlikely successor (Trevor Siemian), a spectacular first-round misstep (Paxton Lynch), a retread (Brock Osweiler) and now Keenum. Elway and Broncos player personnel director Matt Russell are in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday for a Washington-Oregon game that features possible top 2019 QB prospect Justin Herbert, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Several teams are in attendance for this Pac-12 matchup, per Klis, who adds the Broncos figure to be looking at cornerbacks and tackles as early-round possibilities as well.
  • An interesting indictment of Pro Football Focus appears to be coming out of Denver this week. The acclaimed advanced-metrics site has Broncos right guard Connor McGovern rated as the No. 4 overall guard in football (and No. 1 in run-blocking), but OC Bill Musgrave said (via Klis) Max Garcia will take some of McGovern’s snaps this week against the Rams. McGovern struggled at times against Leonard Williams, and Garcia — a starter from 2016-17 and a player not graded nearly as well by PFF — may start this week, per Joseph, against the Rams’ menacing defensive front. This would be a curious move for a team that’s running the ball as well as it is.
  • Volin also doesn’t view Broncos president Joe Ellisstatement this week as a ringing Joseph endorsement, pointing to the team’s once-vaunted defense struggling against the run vs. Jets backs and entering Week 6 with just 11 sacks (19th) despite having used a No. 5 overall pick on Bradley Chubb. Elway hired Joseph, a career defensive-based coach, after one season of DC experience. The Broncos’ pre-Week 10 bye slate features a home game against the Rams, a Thursday road assignment in Arizona, a road matchup in Kansas City and a return home to face the Texans. With Joseph looking like a two-and-done coach at this point, this will be a pivotal stretch for the embattled leader.

West Notes: M. Gordon, Broncos, Noteboom

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not be eligible for unrestricted free agency until after the 2019 season, as the Bolts picked up his fifth-year option for 2019 back in May. He cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last season, and he continues to be a force as a receiver out of the backfield. Nonetheless, as Jack Wang of the Orange County Register writes, Gordon still has a long way to go before he can command the type of contract that fellow 2015 first-rounder Todd Gurley recently pulled down (Gordon, after all, has yet to average four yards per carry in his three seasons in the league).

But while Gordon is not focused on his next contract at the moment, he fully expects to be in Gurley territory when that time comes. He said, “[Gurley] definitely changed the market for us…When that time comes for us backs to get paid, I’m sure it’ll be around the same number.” Gordon did play a full 16-game season for the first time in his career in 2017, and there are plenty of reasons to think his YPC average might look a little better in 2018, which could add up to a lucrative extension in another year or so.

Now let’s round up a few more notes from the league’s west divisions:

  • Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was noncommittal when asked after last night’s preseason loss to the Bears if the team would pursue a veteran to back up starting QB Case Keenum. Per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Joseph said, “Right now (Chad Kelly) is our guy. I can’t speak for two weeks down the road here. But right now he’s our backup quarterback.” Troy Renck of Denver 7 ABC says Kelly has been impressive in the preseason, but he would still be surprised if the Broncos do not add a veteran signal-caller (Twitter link).
  • In a separate tweet, Renck passes along Joseph’s statement that the Broncos‘ running back competition is still open. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, however, reports (unsurprisingly) that rookie Royce Freeman appears to be the winner of the competition, as Denver clearly wants him to be the team’s lead back. Kiszla also points out that UDFA Phillip Lindsay has been sensational in the Broncos’ first two preseason games, and given Lindsay’s abilities on special teams, both Kiszla and Legwold (Twitter link) believe he has a real chance of making the roster.
  • Alfred Morris‘ new contract with the 49ers is for the veteran minimum of $790K, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). As expected, Morris will need to play his way onto San Francisco’s Week 1 roster. He will count for $630K against the team’s cap.
  • Rams rookie Joseph Noteboom, a third-round choice in this year’s draft — and the Rams’ first draft pick in 2018 — has a chance to see immediate playing time along the team’s offensive line this season. And, given the age and contract situation of Los Angeles’ current starting O-linemen, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic writes that Noteboom — an ice hockey standout in high school — could become a fixture at guard or tackle in the very near future. The team has been very impressed with the TCU product thus far, and he acquitted himself nicely during last night’s preseason game, when he played both tackle positions and left guard.
  • The Chiefs signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick earlier today.

Extra Points: Broncos, Packers, Panthers

The Broncos have a new backup quarterback, as head coach Vance Joseph told reporters Chad Kelly is now the club’s top reserve to starter Case Keenum (Twitter link via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic). Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch continued his abysmal NFL run by completing just 6-of-11 passes for 24 yards and one interception during Denver’s first preseason games, while Kelly — the 2017 drat’s Mr. Irrelevant — completed 14-of-21 attempts for 177 yards, two scores, and one interception. Clearly, the Broncos’ decision isn’t solely based on the results of a single exhibition contest, as Lynch also played poorly in two starts last season. Given Kelly’s inexperience, and Lynch’s lack of results, Denver could conceivably aim to acquire a veteran No. 2 signal-caller before the 2018 season gets underway.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Geronimo Allison has “quietly established himself” as the Packers‘ No. 3 receiver behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, as Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes. Green Bay used three Day 3 draft picks on receivers, adding J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown in the process, while futures contract signee Jake Kumerow has also shined during training camp. But it’s the 24-year-old Allison, who landed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2016, who is likely to play in three-wide sets. Allison, who would play on the outside and allow Cobb to move to the slot in “11” personnel, put up 23 receptions and 253 yards in 2017.
  • Panthers rookie cornerback Donte Jackson has given head coach Ron Rivera a comfort level in the secondary he hasn’t had in two-to-three years, per Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Jackson, the 55th overall selection earlier this year, stands 5’11”, 175 pounds, so he was pegged as a slot-only corner as he entered the NFL. However, Carolina has been adamant that Jackson will get an opportunity on the outside, and it’s possible the LSU product will start in Week 1. In fact, after fellow corner Ross Cockrell suffered a season-ending injury, Jackson may be the favorite to play alongside James Bradberry.
  • Free agent cornerback Julian Wilson worked out for the Titans on Sunday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Wilson, 26, went undrafted out of Oklahoma in 2015 before landing a contract with the Ravens. A broken leg ended his rookie season during minicamp, and Wilson subsequently spent time on the Chiefs and Vikings practice squads during the 2016 campaign. A futures deal with the Chiefs in 2017 never led to a serious look, so Wilson signed on with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League during the regular season. If signed by Tennessee, Wilson would compete for time on special teams.

Latest On Broncos’ QB Situation

It is never wise to read too much into preseason games, particularly the first preseason game. But after the Broncos’ current backup signal-caller, Paxton Lynch, played miserably in last night’s loss to the Vikings, writers and fans are understandably wondering whether Chad Kelly — who looked quite good outside of one interception — will begin taking reps with the second team.

Case Keenum, whom Denver signed to be its starting QB after he shocked the world with an excellent 2017 campaign for Minnesota, did not play very well in his first real action for the Broncos either, but his job is secure (even though it must have been a little painful for Broncos fans to watch Kirk Cousins, deemed too expensive by Denver’s front office, march his Vikings down the field for a touchdown in his only drive of the night). The real question is how long Lynch, who has been abjectly terrible since the Broncos traded up to draft him in the first round of the 2016 draft, will remain the team’s No. 2 QB (or, for that matter, how long he will remain on the roster).

Both Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post and Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link) believe that the team has to bring in a veteran QB to be Keenum’s backup, either through trade or free agency. Kiszla goes so far as to say that GM John Elway made an egregious error in signing Keenum over Cousins, as Cousins is clearly the superior player, and Kiszla calls Elway’s decision penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Kelly, a 2017 seventh-rounder who missed his entire rookie campaign as he recovered from wrist and knee surgeries, was 14-of-21 for 177 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception last night, while Lynch was 6-of-11 for 24 yards and an interception. Lynch was also booed pretty emphatically by his hometown fans, who began “KELL-Y! KELL-Y!” chants while the former Mr. Irrelevant was on the field.

There were already rumblings earlier this week that Kelly could become Keenum’s backup, and head coach Vance Joseph did nothing to dispel that notion after last night’s game. Joseph said, “We’ll see. We’ll watch the tape and see where we are. Obviously Case is the starter, so that’s my main concern. But Chad, he’s played well. He played well tonight outside of the one interception. He is a guy that plays with a lot of confidence” (Twitter link via Jhabvala).

The current list of free agent quarterbacks is fairly uninspiring, but a player like Teddy Bridgewater could be available via trade if the Broncos do indeed choose to go that route.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Heckert, Kelly, Leary

On Monday, the Broncos announced that former personnel executive Tom Heckert has died. Heckert, who also served as the GM of the Eagles and Browns, was widely beloved in the football world. After battling amyloidosis for a lengthy period, Heckert passed away peacefully on Sunday night in the company of his family.

Tom was an integral part of our organization and we’re all incredibly saddened today,” GM John Elway said in a statement. “With his many years of experience and time as a GM, Tom was a tremendous resource and a key member of our team. He was a very good evaluator—He had an eye for talent, and we always trusted his voice. It’s easy to see why Tom was widely respected and had so many great relationships across the league. I’ll always be grateful for how he helped me transition into this position. My prayers go out to Tom’s family, friends and everyone he worked with during his career.”

With Heckert’s memory in mind, here’s more from Denver:

  •  Former Mr. Irrelevant Chad Kelly could wind up as the team’s backup quarterback behind Case Keenum, coach Vance Joseph told reporters on Sunday. For now, former first-round pick Paxton Lynch is taking practice reps with the second-team offense, but it’s a situation to keep an eye on. In theory, if the Broncos feel confident in Kelly’s ability, they could shop Lynch to other teams. Although Lynch hasn’t done a whole lot in his NFL career, he was on the radar of several teams before the Broncos selected him No. 26 overall in 2016, so the Broncos might be able to get something in return for him.
  • This week, Joseph told reporters that Broncos left guard Ronald Leary underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in late May (via Mike Klis of 9News). It appears that Leary is still dealing with some effects of the procedure, and he was held out of Sunday’s scrimmage as a precaution.
  • The Broncos and center Matt Paradis are discussing a new deal.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders

Despite visiting with each of this draft’s top four quarterbacks and being consistently rumored to have a couple of them on their radar, the Broncos did not select one throughout the draft. And they aren’t planning on bringing another one in before training camp. John Elway said Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly will compete for the backup job behind Case Keenum, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. This is an interesting approach considering both players are coming off injury-marred years. Lynch will be the only active-roster Broncos QB returning since the team let Brock Osweiler depart in free agency and traded Trevor Siemian. Denver is evidently set at the game’s marquee position, putting faith in Keenum.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Raiders had a busy weekend, making multiple trades for veteran players and taking multiple high-ceiling, low-floor defenders. But they did not invest big in off-ball linebackers, and Reggie McKenzie said (via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com) a NaVorro Bowman acquisition remains on the table. This has been the GM’s party line for a bit now, but it’s notable that stance remains after the Raiders brought in Tahir Whitehead to start and multiple other veteran backups. Bowman started for the Raiders most of last season and was by far their top-graded linebacker, in the opinion of Pro Football Focus.
  • In selecting a player with possible first-round talent in the fifth, the Raiders may have a steal in Maurice Hurst Jr. But the Michigan-developed defensive tackle will be subject to annual heart evaluations after the issue that caused his stock to slip. However, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes (via Twitter) the Raiders do not view this as a flier or year-to-year proposition. Hurst was cleared going into the draft after being flagged for a heart problem at the Combine, but it’s clear all 32 teams were not in agreement on Hurst being a safe bet.
  • Each of the Chiefs‘ six draft picks went to addressing their defense, which ranked 30th in DVOA last season. But Louis Riddick of ESPN reported during the draft sixth-round pick Kahlil McKenzie — Reggie’s son — will begin his career at guard despite playing defensive tackle at Tennessee. The Chiefs lost Bennie Logan this offseason but drafted Derrick Nnadi out of Florida State to potentially move into that role. Kahlil McKenzie, then, will attempt to carve out a spot on the offensive line.

Broncos Place Jake Butt, Chad Kelly On IR

A pair of Broncos rookies are headed to the injured reserve. The team announced today that they’ve placed tight end Jake Butt and quarterback Chad Kelly on the IR. The two players were previously on the NFI list, and after evaluating their progress, the coaching staff decided that the duo would be shut down for the season.

Jake Butt“They’re both going to go down,” said head coach Vance Joseph. “Chad Kelly, obviously, he came back and practiced last week, and obviously numbers-wise, it doesn’t make sense for our football team. We were hoping that Jake could come back and help us at this point, but he’s not ready yet. So we’re going to put both of those guys down.”

Butt, who was selected in the fifth round of this past year’s draft, has spent the majority of the campaign recovering from his second ACL surgery. The tight end had been practicing for the past few weeks, but he continued to feel soreness in the knee. After having earned a pair of first-team All-American nods, it was expected that Butt could eventually work his way into a major role. Instead, the Broncos will have to continue to rely on A.J. Derby, Virgil Green, and Jeff Heuerman at tight end.

“There’s definitely frustration,” Butt told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post last week. “For me, I’ve been a quick healer my whole life and everything I’ve come back (from), I’ve been able to come back with no problems. But it’s also teaching me some things. Patience is a big thing.”

There had been less optimism that Kelly would be activated from the NFI. The seventh-round pick was recovering from both wrist and and knee surgeries, and while the trio of Brock OsweilerTrevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch have been uninspiring, there wasn’t room on the roster for a rookie quarterback. Kelly was limited to nine games during his senior season at Ole Miss, but he still managed to complete 62.5-percent of his passes for 2,758 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Down To 52-Man Roster

The Broncos are down to a 52-man roster. Why 52, you ask? That’s because their signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler is not yet official. Once he’s inked, they’ll be at the 53-man max.

The Broncos also have Shane Ray on the active roster as of this writing. If they place him on IR, they’ll have another spot to work with.

Here’s the full look at their roster:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/Injured:

  • LB Kevin Snyder

Placed On IR:

Reserve/NFI: