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Monday, May 19, 2014
Packers willing to take a chance on Lyerla

By Rob Demovsky


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ted Thompson, as conservative as he may be in many aspects during his tenure as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, believes in second chances.

He showed that when he signed troubled receiver Koren Robinson in 2006 after Robinson ran into personal and legal trouble and was cut by the Minnesota Vikings. Thompson showed it again last season when he brought back defensive tackle Johnny Jolly after Jolly had been away from the Packers for three years while serving prison time and an NFL suspension for drug possession and use.

So his decision to give another chance to talented tight end Colt Lyerla -- the former Oregon tight end who went undrafted and unsigned during the initial wave of rookie free agency but signed with the Packers on Monday after a weekend tryout -- should not come as a surprise.

"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," Thompson said last weekend during the Packers' rookie orientation camp. "And I am a proponent of those kind of people that try to do that. And that's where we're at with Colt."

Thompson and his staff no doubt spent hours looking into Lyerla's issues -- from his controversial tweets in which he suggested that the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was a government conspiracy to his premature departure from the Oregon football team to his arrest for possession of cocaine -- and believed, like Robinson and Jolly before him, that Lyerla would be able to function in the Packers' system.

And he surely received assurance from Lyerla's camp that he has learned from his mistakes

"He is a first-round talent, and he will be a great young man in Green Bay," Lyerla's agent, Vinnie Porter, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "He has turned the corner and will make this situation a great one."

It doesn't hurt that Lyerla plays a position that ranked as one of the team's greatest needs going into the offseason. With Jermichael Finley's medical and contractual status still up in the air and no one with a lock on the starting job despite the fact that the Packers re-signed Andrew Quarless and drafted Cal's Richard Rodgers in the third round, it's easy to see why Thompson decided to sign Lyerla.

From a financial standpoint, there's zero risk involved. Tryout players who receive contract offers almost never get a signing bonus and, like the other undrafted rookies, they earn their minimum base salary only if they are on the 53-man roster. So consider this an extended tryout for Lyeria, a talented player who, at least in Thompson's eyes, deserved a chance.