Lyerla Signing Appears Likely

Lyerla (Joe Robbins - Getty)

Given Colt Lyerla's off-the-field issues, any decision is subject to change, but the Packers figure to sign the former Oregon tight end, according to a source. It would be a low-risk, high-reward transaction.

Given the image-conscious nature of the team, any preliminary decision could be subject to change, but the Green Bay Packers appear ready to sign tight end Colt Lyerla, a source told Packer Report on Saturday evening.

A high school All-American, Lyerla's career at Oregon was derailed by a series of serious missteps. He called the massacre at Sandy Hook High School a government conspiracy, left the program after not playing against Tennessee, and was arrested for cocaine possession.

From an athletic standpoint, Lyerla was arguably the best tight end at the Scouting Combine. Lyerla (6-4, 242) ran 4.61 in the 40-yard dash, which trailed only Tennessee State's A.C. Leonard (4.50) and North Carolina's Eric Ebron (4.60). His broad jump of 10 feet, 8 inches tied Leonard for best in the group, while his 39-inch vertical jump not only led the tight ends, but was 4 inches better than the second-place finisher. Further research showed that his broad jump was tied for fourth-best for any tight end that attended the Scouting Combine since 2006. His vertical jump ranked seventh among those position participants since the 2006 event.

However, his body of work never matched the athleticism. He started just 12 games in his two-plus seasons and averaged 1.21 receptions per game. In 2013, he caught just two passes through the first four games.

His potential is evident in what he did with his limited opportunities. Of his 34 receptions, 29 resulted in first downs, including 11 that went for touchdowns.

According to two sources, Lyerla looked good at the Packers' rookie orientation camp, which wrapped up on Saturday.

"We did a lot of work on Colt," general manager Ted Thompson said during a Saturday news conference. "He's a very talented athlete. We interviewed him at the Combine, we went through all those procedures, talked to a lot of people. He's a young man that made some mistakes and we feel like he was worth bringing in and taking a look at."

Really, there's no downside in the Packers signing Lyerla to a contract. Most likely, there would be no guaranteed money involved. For instance, when the Packers signed Jarrett Boykin after he tried out at the rookie camp in 2012, he received no signing bonus. And the Packers, even with a third-round pick invested in Richard Rodgers, aren't exactly stacked at tight end. Even with Lyerla's ho-hum production, his upside is undeniable.

The only thing that might prevent his signing would be a last-minute case of cold feet for Thompson or a negative backlash from fans or sponsors, with Lyerla not being the best representation of the team's "Packer People" mantra. In reality, the feedback on Twitter has been overwhelmingly positive.

At the Scouting Combine, Lyerla said he was a changed man. Most likely, Thompson wouldn't have even brought in Lyerla if their background check didn't find validity to that statement. So, having taken the step of inviting Lyerla to rookie camp, there's little reason to not take the next step and sign him to a contract so he can compete throughout the offseason and into training camp.

"You weigh it all," Thompson said. "And every case is an individual case. We have always believed that — or I have always believed that — there are certain things that people can atone for, acknowledge their mistakes and get on with their lives. And I am a proponent of those kind of people that try to do that. And that's where we're at with Colt."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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