Consider defensive tackle Tommy Kelly the luckiest man on the earth. And his agent the smartest.And the Raiders front office ... well, they're the dumbest.Thursday, the 27-year-old lineman signed the biggest contract ever given to 4 Brett Favre Purple jersey
a defensive tackle. Over the next seven years, Kelly will earn $50.5 million, including $18.125 million in guarantees. In the first three years alone, the 300-pounder will rake in $25.125 million.The deal -- again, the highest ever for his position -- implies that Kelly is the best, or at least the most valuable, defensive tackle in all of the NFL.That statement is a rather hard one to believe, considering the 6-foot-6 lineman has never recorded over five sacks or 70 tackles in a single season.Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2004, Kelly has played only one full season, which came under former head coach Art Shell in 2006. It was arguably his best. In 16 starts at DT, Kelly recorded 68 tackles and 3? sacks.Still, despite a solid effort two years ago, the signing of the soon-to-be free agent was a rather absurd one. In his career, Kelly has averaged just 41 tackles and three sacks per season.He's also not that great of an asset against the run, which has been Oakland's Achilles' heel for the past several years. Even with Kelly in the starting lineup and at defensive tackle for 16 games in '06, Oakland still ranked 25th against the run, giving up 134 yards per game. In fact, since Kelly has been with the Raiders, the rushing defense has never ranked higher than 22nd, which was in his rookie year, when he only started in three contests.Further making the signing appear unjustifiable is the status of Kelly's health. The ex-Mississippi State standout hasn't appeared in a game since Oct. 28, 2007, when he tore his ACL, preventing him from playing in the final nine games of last season. As a result, the Jackson, Miss., native finished off the year with only 30 tackles and one sack.Before Oakland actually signed Kelly, I'll admit, I was one of the many pushing for the young defensive tackle's return to the team in 2008. You can see it in this Feb. 22 article, or in this Jan. 7 article. I was all for it.Plus, with veteran defensive tackle Warren Sapp's retirement, nearly everyone expected Oakland to 4 Brett Favre White jersey
pursue Kelly very eagerly this offseason. However, no one expected owner Al Davis to break an NFL record by spending over $50 million on a player who has proved relatively very little thus far in his career.In the meantime, Oakland's leading sack-getter from 2007, Chris Clemons, is officially a free agent.