Colts take a shot, sign QB Chad Kelly


DENVER, CO – AUGUST 18: Quarterback Chad Kelly #6 of the Denver Broncos passes against the Chicago Bears during an NFL preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on August 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts’ latest roster move was a notable one.

The team signed free agent quarterback Chad Kelly, whose playing career has been marred by several off-the-field incidents. To make room for Kelly on the 90-play roster, the Colts waived defensive tackle Jordan Thompson.

Kelly was a 2017 seventh-round pick of the Denver Broncos and notable because of his draft positioning: No. 253 overall, the final pick and Mr. Irrelevant. He participated in the Colts’ recent rookie minicamp as a tryout and joins a quarterback room that includes Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Phillip Walker.

The personnel decision had been speculated and The Athletic reported shortly after the NFL Draft it was tied to coach Frank Reich’s close relationship with Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, Chad Kelly’s uncle. Reich and Jim Kelly were long-time teammates in Buffalo.

Kelly appeared in one game for the Broncos during his two-year stay with the team. He spent his rookie season on the NFI/injured reserve list due to injuries he sustained in college.

His career in Denver ended in 2018 after he was arrested on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespassing. Police alleged Kelly randomly entered a home and was subsequently beaten by the homeowners. An affidavit said Kelly was mumbling incoherently during the incident.

He pled guilty to second-degree trespassing and was sentenced to one-year supervised probation and 50 hours of community service.

It’s possible Kelly faces discipline from the NFL if he’s able to secure a regular-season roster spot, with the Colts or another team, as a result from the 2018 incident in Colorado.

According to an NFL spokesman, “the matter remains under review.’’

Kelly’s collegiate career included stops at Clemson, East Mississippi Community College and Mississippi. At Clemson, he was dismissed from the team in April 2014 for conduct detrimental to the program.

In December 2014, he was arrested following an altercation outside a bar in Buffalo. A plea agreement resulted in the charges being dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on disorderly conduct and 50 hours of community service.

Last month, Colts general manager Chris Ballard made it clear he’s willing to “take a shot’’ on certain individuals. He was talking in general and not about Kelly’s possible signing.

“I mean, look, I’m in to giving second chances,’’ he said. “I mean my wife always tells me, ‘Chris, you think you can save everybody.’ At my core that’s who I am, and I do.

“But I also have learned that when you take somebody that does have issues even though they are really good, the strain it puts upon not only the coaching staff but the locker room . . . we’re selective. I don’t want to sit here and say we will never take a shot because I know me well enough and there will come a point when we do, but it’s going to be one that we’ve researched, we feel comfortable that we can handle it and there is a humbleness inside of him that he has been remorseful and he wants to fit into our locker room.’’

Kelly started 34 of 39 games at Ole Miss (2015-16), East Mississippi (2014) and Clemson (2012-13). He passed for 10,763 yards and 97 touchdowns with 29 interceptions.

In his two seasons at Ole Miss, Kelly started 22 games and passed for 6,800 yards and 50 touchdowns.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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