INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Chad Kelly’s attempt at resuscitating his NFL career has hit yet another hurdle.
If the troubled quarterback is able to earn a spot on the Indianapolis Colts’ 53-player roster in September – he’s currently working as the No. 4 quarterback – he’ll miss the first two games of the regular season. The NFL announced Friday Kelly has been suspended without pay for the first two games for violating its personal conduct policy.
Kelly, 25 and a 2017 seventh-round draft pick of Denver, was released by the Broncos in October 2018 after pleading guilty to second-degree trespassing. It was the latest off-field issue for Kelly, whose previous incidents included being kicked off Clemson’s football team in April 2014 and pleading guilty to disorderly conduct stemming from an altercation outside a Buffalo bar in later that year.
According to NFL guidelines, Kelly is able to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. He would be eligible to return to the Colts’ active roster Monday, Sept. 16 following their game against Tennessee the previous day.
This latest development doesn’t come as a surprise. No sooner had the Colts signed Kelly to a one-year, $570,000 contract May 20 than a league spokesman confirmed his off-field history was under review.
Also, the team realized it was taking a risk, albeit one with little downside other than the public relations hit of signing a player with significant baggage.
Prior to signing Kelly, general manager Chris Ballard stressed he was willing to “take a shot’’ on individuals with certain off-field issues, adding “I’m in to giving second chances.
“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.’’
Coach Frank Reich played a role in the Colts’ signing Kelly. He and Kelly’s uncle, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, were teammates for a decade with the Buffalo Bills. They talked prior to the team adding Kelly to a quarterbacks room that consisted of Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Phillip Walker.
“We obviously did a lot of research. We did a lot of vetting there,’’ Reich said. “Whenever you take a person in Chad’s situation, it’s a case-by-case basis.
“I felt like from the tape that we saw, what the scouts thought (and) what we saw looking at the tape, the vetting that we did . . . it just felt like we would give Chad a chance here to come in and compete as the fourth guy.
“Hey, we all every day have to prove it. Chad knows he has to prove it. He knows he’s getting a second chance.’’
Kelly met with the local media for the first time Wednesday and appeared remorseful for his off-field issues. He also realized his return to the NFL would take more than contrite comments.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to put in enough work for those guys to trust you because it’s going to take some time of course because there’s been things that have happened in the past,’’ he said. “But I’m up for the challenge to prove to these guys that I’m dedicated to this.
“I want to do whatever I have to do to be a great teammate, a great leader because that’s what quarterbacks do. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and to have these coaches and these players around here and a support staff to make me a better person on and off the field.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.