The Oakland Raiders have been getting rid of veterans left and right this offseason, and the latest to go is massive defensive lineman Tommy Kelly. Inside Bay Area reported today that he was the third defensive tackle let go by the Raiders, and saved the team five million dollars in cap space. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sitting on a stack of cash, and a space-eating, monstrous nose tackle on the market, will the Buccaneers pursue Kelly?
The main concern here is price. Kelly was making obscene numbers in Oakland, and considering that he’s past 30 and has not shown any consistency in his NFL career, he’s likely not going to get the kind of paycheck he wants. He’s got the size needed to play the nosetackle position in the Buccaneers’ defense; he’s actually bigger and stronger than Roy Miller. But remember that Tommy Kelly was one of the defenders who allowed Doug Martin to have his breakout game this season in Oakland. In other words, there is good as well as bad when it comes to Tommy Kelly, and he’ll have to settle for a price lower than he probably would like, even outside of Tampa Bay.
The upside of bringing in Tommy Kelly is that he provides a huge tackle partner for Gerald McCoy. McCoy came on last season and showed why he was a first round pick, but still has to work to give the Buccaneers value for their money. He’ll need a partner in crime to make sure he can attack as the 3-technique (Warren Sapp style), so the other defensive tackle will need to occupy the center and opposite guard as much as possible. The 330 pound Kelly could do just that, and he’s disruptive enough that he commands a double team based on skill and not just on size. In fact, Kelly would play as the 3-tech tackle in Oakland at times, but still command double teams.
There are certainly questions among other reporters and experts about Kelly’s focus and drive, but it’s tough to judge a player stuck in the Black Hole in Oakland for as long as Kelly has been. If Coach Schiano and Mark Dominik take the time to sit down with Tommy Kelly, they might find the perfect partner for Gerald McCoy. It’s all dependent on mindset and attitude.
This is the kind of player that could be worth the Buccaneers’ cash, because there will be less competition for his signature after many teams have spent their free agent budgets. If I had to guess, I’d say the Buccaneers won’t sign him. But I would not be shocked to see him in Tampa Bay, and I would be excited at the possibility of having a dynamic duo at defensive tackle.
What do you think, Bucs fans? Leave a comment below and give us your thoughts on the Bucs going after Tommy Kelly.