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A former defensive starter for the Green Bay Packers will line up for a conference rival beginning next season.
“The Cardinals have signed former Packers defensive lineman Kingsley Keke,” Hirschhorn tweeted on Friday, May 13.
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DE Keke’s Role Likely to Decrease as Member of Arizona Cardinals
Keke was afforded a prominent role in the Packers defense over the last two seasons, though he is liable to take a step back in that regard after joining the Cardinals.
The defensive end appeared in 12 regular season games for Green Bay last year, starting eight of those contests, per Pro Football Reference. Over the course of his three seasons in Green Bay, Keke played in 41 games and earned 17 starts. He amassed 54 tackles, including four tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, 6.5 sacks, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles during that span.
While a regular starter for the Packers over the previous two years (17 starts in 27 regular season game appearances), Keke is likely to assume a bench role in Arizona. He is currently listed as the No. 2 defensive end on the right side of the line behind Zach Allen, per the Cardinals’ depth chart as it appears on ESPN. Starting on the left side is edge rusher and future Hall of Fame player J.J. Watt.
Keke Had Strange, Abrupt Exit From Green Bay During Postseason
Keke’s tenure with the Packers came to an abrupt and confusing end just days before the team was set to take on the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs.
Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst released Keke on Wednesday, January 19. The matchup with the 49ers, a longstanding pain in the Packers’ playoff side, took place that coming Saturday night. The Houston Texans claimed the defensive end off of waivers the very next day.
Why the 25-year-old, who had started more than half the games he played for the team over the previous two years, was released so suddenly did not become clear until Thursday via a report from Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, who said the incident involved a disagreement between Keke and Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur.
“New Texans DT Kingsley Keke, claimed off waivers today from Packers, was released this week following a disagreement with coaching staff about practice role, per sources, coming off concussion, COVID in recent weeks,” Wilson tweeted. “Now, former George Ranch standout gets fresh start in hometown.”
The Packers went on to lose to the Niners that weekend in heartbreaking fashion, by a score of 13-10.