Editor's Note: I wrote this before I realized James would be breaking it down. Make sure you read his take by, you know, scrolling down.
Tony Gonzalez is the unquestioned starter at tight end for the Atlanta Falcons. But who will be behind him?
I had my theories, as of just a scant week or so ago. Justin Peelle would likely ride out one more season as Gonzo's direct backup, working that pass-blocking magic and catching the occasional Matt Ryan throw. Michael Palmer would spend one more season growing in the third tight end role, and then assume the backup job. All that made sense.
A week later, things have changed a bit. Justin Peelle suffered what D. Orlando Ledbetter characterized as a severe knee injury, one that could keep him out for a long time. I have no idea just how long that is, but Kelly apparently wasn't signed to be a camp body. He was signed to be a blocker for the team's fancy new passing offense, something he excels at even at age 34. And just like that, Palmer's been passed over for the new guy.
According to DOL, Kelly is already practicing as the second tight end, even though he was just signed yesterday. It's a nod to his status as a veteran, certainly. But it's also a clear sign that Palmer is not going to be the backup to Gonzo this year. Period.
Michael Palmer is the guy I'd most like to see as there, given his youth and his well-rounded skill set. I don't believe Palms of Fury will ever be an elite tight end, but he's talented enough to warrant a few snaps in this offense. Even as the third tight end, he'll get some, because Kelly cannot catch a cold at this point in his career. He had 10 catches for 42 yards in 2010 with the Bengals.
What do you think?