Matt LaFleur said at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine he was interested in finding a third running back to step up into the Green Bay Packers’ rotation next season.
Turns out, he didn’t need to look far.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Packers are expected to bring back running back/return specialist Tyler Ervin on a one-year contract that qualifies for veteran salary benefit. The 26-year-old was signed off the waivers last December and helped revitalize the Packers’ return game, putting in some sparse but explosive reps out of the backfield as well.
Ervin is due to make $910,000 in base salary with another $137,500 as a signing bonus, but his deal counts as just $887,500 against the salary cap as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement voted into place a few weeks ago. The new CBA terms allow teams to sign up to two of their own players per season — each of which must have at least four years of service time — and exclude as much as $1.25 million of each player’s base salary and salary cap.
With Ervin back in the fold, the Packers have a tight three-man stable for their backfield in 2020 with leading rusher Aaron Jones set to once again split carries with Jamaal Williams. LaFleur will also now have more time to figure out how to deploy Ervin’s talents in Year 2 of his offensive system.
“Tyler did a great job, not only from the return aspect,” LaFleur said back in February. “I felt like that’s where our special teams started to take a turn for the better is when we picked him up. And he’s a versatile guy and we were able to play him more and more as the season progressed. If I have my way, yeah, I’d love to have him back.”
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Cost, Value Make Re-Signing Ervin an Easy Choice
Ervin never disappointed during his six games for the Packers, including two playoff appearances, but there was always the concern that free agency would see him land with another team or simply not be asked to come back for the 2020 season.
Now, the Packers can continue to explore his capabilities as a weapon for their offense while also keeping in place a reliable special-teams asset.
Before Ervin arrived in Week 13, the Packers were at the bottom of the NFL with minus-8 return yards and saw him immediately raise the standards. He finished the year with an average of 9.3 yards on 12 punt returns and 22.3 yards on nine kickoff returns, including his postseason numbers.
Ervin also functioned as a spark-plug piece of the offense in a few moments, gaining no fewer than five yards on any play where he got the ball. He jotted off for an 18-yard run that charged the Packers’ third scoring drive in the first half of their divisional-round win against Seattle. He also caught three of five targets from Aaron Rodgers on the year for 18 receiving yards.
It doesn’t look like much given the sampling size, but the per-rep yardage definitely has promise.