Green Bay Packers fans have been tantalized for the past few days by an early-round draft talent at the tight end position who has been in town for the team's rookie camp. A few days of speculation finally came to an end today when the NFL released its transaction report.
Colt Lyerla is officially a Packer.
After passing through the 2014 NFL Draft without hearing his name called and getting no contract offers out of the gate as an undrafted free agent, Lyerla and his agent elected to send the former Oregon Duck to the Packers' rookie camp on a tryout basis on Friday to try to earn a spot on the team's 90-man roster. He apparently did just that, as Green Bay has signed him to a deal to fill the final open spot on the team.
Lyerla brings athleticism to the position that does not exist in any of the Packers' current tight ends. His 4.62-second forty-yard dash at the Scouting Combine was faster than any Combine 40 posted by the five other current Packers at the position, and was bested only by Jake Stoneburner's 4.53 on a notoriously fast track at Ohio State's Pro Day and Brandon Bostick's 4.59 at Coastal Carolina's Pro Day. Lyerla also put up a 39" vertical and a 10'8" broad jump, both of which were top marks at this year's Combine.
To earn a spot on the 53-man regular season roster, though, Lyerla will need to show more maturity than he has in recent years. His off-the-field issues have been well-documented and include inflammatory comments about the Sandy Hook shooting, an arrest for cocaine use, and his sudden departure from the Oregon football team early last season.
Time will tell if Lyerla becomes anything more than a training camp body. But for now, he has a home on an NFL roster and a team that can put his athletic talent to good use if he can stay on a clean and quiet path for the foreseeable future.
In addition to signing Lyerla today, the Packers also signed defensive back Charles Clay (which was reported earlier today) and defensive end Luther Robinson from the University of Miami and waived tight end Raymond Webber to make room for him. In a fifth transaction, the team has also signed third-round pick Khyri Thornton to his rookie contract.
UPDATE: Here's Lyerla's reaction to signing his contract:
I am honored to be a part of such a legendary organization. Proud to be a Green Bay Packer ! #GoPackGo— (@LongLiveLyerla) May 19, 2014