By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
Reggie Kelly is staying home.
After eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Kelly agreed Tuesday to a contact with the Atlanta Falcons, the team that drafted him 42nd overall out of Mississippi State in 1999.
The 6-foot-4, 257-pound tight end from Aberdeen is entering his 13th NFL season.
Atlanta contacted him on Sunday and invited him to work out.
The Falcons liked what they saw.
“I’m extremely happy to be back here,” Kelly said by phone Tuesday afternoon, “to be back here and to play a few seasons here and finish here. I know my family is happy.”
Kelly, wife Sheila, son Kavan and daughter Kyla will be able to stay put now. The family lives in Atlanta during the offseason. Kelly had also visited Pittsburgh.
Kelly said he not only got a chance to talk with Atlanta head coach Mike Smith, he met with quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski as well.
Bratkowski was Kelly’s offensive coordinator in Cincinnati for the past eight seasons before being let go and hired by Atlanta in February.
Kelly will serve as Tony Gonzalez’s backup tight end, likely taking the spot over from Justin Peelle, who injured his knee in the preseason opener.
Whether Peelle returns or not, the move immediately bolsters Atlanta’s blocking ability, a specialty for Kelly.
“I just want to try to come in here and be an asset for an already established team,” Kelly said.
He spent four seasons in Atlanta, putting up career-highs of 31 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns in his second season.
He has since developed into a premier blocking tight end with 194 catches for 1,760 yards and five touchdowns. Last season, he had 10 catches for 42 yards.
Atlanta lost in the divisional round against Green Bay in January and looks to be going in the right direction – a totally different direction than the struggling Bengals.
“It’s always good to have a chance to win it all but we have to work extremely hard,” Kelly said. “I think they have all the key pieces to the puzzle. I just want to help the team win any way I can.”