The Detroit Lions were one of eight teams who were awarded a player through this year’s NFL International Player Pathway program. As the league announced on Thursday morning, the Lions have added tight end Patrick Murtagh from Australia.
Murtagh, standing 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, is a track athlete who comes from the Aussie Football Rule league, which, to be clear, is not the American football sport. He reportedly wowed the crowd at the International Combine back in October with his athleticism... and his punting skills. He has also apparently been a huge fan of American football for years now.
“I’ve been a massive fan of the sport from a young age,” Murtagh told GCMag back in January. “And after being delisted by the (AFL Gold Coast) Suns last year, there were some talks about a possible training camp in London, and I decided I couldn’t help but go for it”.
The Lions previously got an up-close look at Murtagh at the South Florida pro day, where all players in the international program were able to showcase their skills.
The NFL International Player Pathway program is a fascinating project. This year, they selected two NFL divisions (NFC North, AFC West) and awarded them players—via a random draw. The teams were able to rank their preference of the available international players, but were ultimately assigned the players to them via the NFL.
The Lions, among the other seven teams, will now carry their assigned player, Murtagh, all the way through training camp. They will then have the option to keep that player on their practice squad as an extra exemption. Of course, the player could always just make the 53-man roster on their own merit, as well. In the meantime, he does not count against the team’s 90-man roster.
Murtagh enters a fascinating competition at tight end that will feature a bunch of young talent, including second-round pick Sam Laporta and last year’s fifth-round pick James Mitchell.
In the past, this program has produced NFL talent who have stayed in the NFL. Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata went through the international program, became a seventh-round pick, and is now Philly’s starting tackle. Per the NFL press release, there are currently four alumni of this program currently on active NFL rosters: Mailata, Washington Commanders defensive end Efe Obada and defensive tackle David Bada, and Las Vegas Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson.