Longtime Ravens tight end and current NFL free agent Nick Boyle is making a pivot in his NFL career. The 30-year-old is set to try out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of Baltimore's AFC North rivals, as a long snapper, the team announced Friday.
Boyle had begun the process of transitioning from tight end to being a long snapper during the 2022 season, according to The Athletic. His ability as a long snapper helped him receive a scholarship offer at Delaware before he embarked on his NFL career. He was also spotted at Maryland's Pro Day earlier this offseason working as a long snapper.
Boyle emphasized that he genuinely is working on making the position switch.
"I'm serious," Boyle said on the new NFL endeavor, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Let's go do it. It's not a joke. That's not what I want it to look like, because it's not."
He added some insight to how he prepares for the tryout, getting very creative with how he practices.
"I was snapping to a Fisher Price basketball hoop in my driveway," Boyle said. "My wife didn't want to catch the balls. I hit [the backboard] sometimes. Sometimes, it goes in the road."
A fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Boyle has spent his entire career in Baltimore. He caught 121 passes and four touchdowns during his first six seasons in Baltimore but has just one catch over the past two seasons. An injury limited him to just 12 games last season.
Long snapper is arguably the NFL's most interesting position. Like kickers and punters, it is an acquired skill that not many people can do. That means good job security for long snappers who happen to latch onto a team.
The value of having a solid long snapper was on display in Cincinnati in Week 1 of the 2022 season. With Clark Harris injured, Bengals backup tight end Mitchell Wilcox was tasked with handling the team's long-snapping duties late in their game against the Steelers. A subpar snap my Wilcox resulted in a missed point-after attempt by Evan McPherson that would have won the game for the Bengals. Instead, the Bengals lost in overtime.
Given the minimal number of long snappers, along with his experience at tight end, Boyle's position change should lead to interest around the league, especially during this dry period of free agency.