It’s been years since Nick Boyle played like his old self in the NFL. A former fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens back in 2015, Boyle made a name for himself as a serviceable tight end in an offense that has always featured that position.
An offense the Pittsburgh Steelers, obviously, know very well having played it twice a year for the last 26 years and counting.
After spending eight seasons in Baltimore, the 30-year old Boyle is trying out something new to extend his NFL career. He’s played over 3,000 snaps as a tight end. Now, snapping the ball is where Boyle’s head is at.
Boyle is one of over 30 tryout players partaking in Steelers rookie minicamp, but not as a tight end. He’s looking to make an impression as a converted long snapper; an opportunity he’s not taking lightly.
“Let’s go do it. It’s not a joke,” Boyle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s not what I want it to look like, because it’s not. If this doesn’t work out, I’ll just keep snapping, and if someone else calls, I’ll go there.”
Playing in the NFL is hard on one’s ligaments and joints, but long snapper is way more forgiving than lining up at tight end 60 times a game, having to take on contact as a receiver and blocker for every one of your reps.
It’s part of the reason why Boyle has made the switch. He suffered a dislocated knee in the middle of the 2020 season, and played just 155 offensive snaps since then for the Ravens. Crossing the threshold of age 30 isn’t going to make Boyle’s body any better than it is now, so he must make the most of what he’s got.
And what he’s got is a chance to keep playing the game he loves, even if it means being a grizzled veteran amongst rookies in minicamp.
“No, I love being around this stuff,” Boyle said of being a tryout player. “I feel old, that’s for sure.”
We’ll know shortly if Boyle earns a contract with Pittsburgh and sticks around for the rest of the offseason. The team has had Christian Kuntz manning the position for the past two years, and has a handful of roster spots available.