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Dennis Kelly would be a good swing tackle option for the Ravens

The recently released veteran blocker from a bitter rival would fill a need for depth and potentially more.

Wild Card Round - Baltimore Ravens v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Teams across the league are currently scrambling to clear cap space with the official start of the new league year less than 24 hours away. The Tennessee Titans made a pair of cuts to make room for the two big contracts they signed with notable pass rushers Bud Dupree and Denico Autry.

While the release of Jackson, a former first round pick, will garner more fanfare, signing a veteran offensive tackle like Kelly would be more practical and would address a more pressing need for the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens had plenty of depth on the interior of their offensive line last season but the same couldn’t be said at tackle behind Pro Bowl bookends Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr.

Outside of journeyman Will Holden in a limited sample size, they severely lacked serviceable swing tackles. When Stanley was lost for the year after eight games and Brown Jr. had to flip over to protect Lamar Jackson’s blindside, that lack of depth was exposed with the half-to-half and sometimes drive-to-drive rotation of rookie Tyre Phillips and veteran DJ Fluker.

Prior to last season, when he started all 16 regular-season games for Tennessee, Kelly had mostly served as a backup. Kelly was picked by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Purdue. He started 10 games as a rookie but from 2014-2019, he never started more than six games in a single season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Kelly didn’t surrender a single sack in pass protection last season, was called for just two penalties in 1,049 offensive snaps, and earned a solid overall grade of 65.9. He also helped pave the way for All-Pro RB Derrick Henry to secure the league rushing title for a second consecutive season and become just the eighth player in NFL history to reach the 2,000-rushing mark.

Kelly would be a serviceable and inexpensive stopgap starter at right tackle in the event that Brown Jr. gets traded this offseason to live his dream of playing left tackle. Even if Brown Jr. isn’t dealt in the coming months, he’d still serve as an upgrade at swing tackle and provide quality and experienced depth at both tackle spots.

With Stanley coming off a major injury that required two surgeries, having a veteran insurance policy over an inferior, less experienced option could prove to be vital if there were any setbacks in Stanley’s recovery process. Since Kelly was released as a salary cap casualty, he wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula if signed.