Raiders release DT Tommy Kelly
The Oakland Raiders released defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on
Wednesday, cutting ties with their longest-tenured position player
on the roster.
The move is the latest to distance the organization from the era
of late owner Al Davis. Kelly originally signed with Oakland as an
undrafted free agent in 2004 and quickly became a mainstay on the
defense, signing a $50.1 million, seven-year contract to remain
with Oakland in 2008.
But general manager Reggie McKenzie cut Kelly two years before
the end of that contract, getting Kelly’s $6.5 million salary for
2013 off the books.
Kelly, 32, is the third prominent player acquired by Davis who
has been released this month, following defensive back Michael Huff
and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Punter Shane Lechler, safety Mike Mitchell, tight end Brandon
Myers, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and defensive tackle Desmond
Bryant have also all left as free agents. Only 18 players who were
part of the organization when Davis died Oct. 8, 2011, are still on
Running back Darren McFadden and safety Tyvon Branch are now the
longest-tenured position players on the roster, having been drafted
in 2008. Long snapper Jon Condo joined the team the previous season
and kicker Sebastian Janikowski was a first-round pick in 2000.
Kelly started all 80 games for Oakland over the past five
seasons. His best years came in 2010 and `11 when he teamed with
Richard Seymour to form a formidable force in the middle of the
defensive line. Kelly had 14 1/2 sacks over those two seasons and
was one of the better pass-rushing tackles in the league.
But he struggled to get to the quarterback last season,
recording just one sack in 16 games. He also had only 18
quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, down from
an average of more than 30 the previous two years.
The Raiders are completely reworking their defensive line,
having lost Shaughnessy and Bryant to free agency and with no
interest in bringing back Seymour as a free agent. Defensive end
Lamarr Houston is the only returning starter.
McKenzie has signed Jason Hunter, Pat Sims and Vance Walker this
month and could use the No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft to add