The Detroit Lions announced the signing of Australian tight end Patrick Murtagh, 23, through the NFL’s International Player Pathway (IPP) program. As a participant in the IPP, Murtagh bolsters the Lions’ practice squad and brings a unique skillset to the team.
From Down Under to the Motor City
Murtagh, standing at 6 feet 5, originally played Australian rules football for the Gold Coast Suns developmental team. His athleticism doesn’t end there – he’s also a track standout, having won an Australian state decathlon championship and competed in the triple jump and high jump. Murtagh participated in the NFL’s 2022 international combine last October.
In an Instagram post, the Australian expressed his gratitude:
Detroit lions bound. Beyond grateful for everyone that’s been apart of this journey. To my team around me, friends, family and everyone else out there Thank you! Here is to us! We are going to Detroit.
Competition Heats Up in the Tight End Room
Murtagh joins a young tight end room, including recent second-round draft pick Sam LaPorta from Iowa. Additionally, Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra, James Mitchell, and Derrick Deese will all compete for snaps. With former NFL tight end Steve Heiden joining the coaching staff, the group aims to maintain physicality as a core value.
Expanding Horizons: The NFL’s International Player Pathway Program
Established in 2017, the IPP aims to provide elite athletes from around the world with the opportunity to earn a spot on an NFL roster and increase the number of international players in the league. This year, eight players from the 2023 IPP cohort were added to NFL rosters, the highest number since the program’s inception.
The IPP program invites talented young athletes to an NFL International Combine, with this year’s held in London, England, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. After an intensive 10-week training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the athletes showcase their talents in front of NFL club scouts at a Pro Day at the University of South Florida.
NFC North and AFC West Divisions Gain IPP Players
The NFC North and AFC West divisions were selected to receive IPP players in a random draw. This year, both divisions will receive four players from the IPP, bringing the total number of IPP athletes placed on rosters to eight. All 32 NFL teams have now received an IPP player since the program began.
- Patrick Murtagh, Australia – Detroit Lions – Tight End – 23 years old
- Roy Mbaeteka, Nigeria – Chicago Bears – Offensive Lineman – 23 years old
- Kenneth Odumegwu, Nigeria – Green Bay Packers – Defensive Lineman – 22 years old
- Junior Aho, France – Minnesota Vikings – Defensive Lineman – 24 years old
- Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi, Nigeria – Denver Broncos – Defensive Lineman – 22 years old
- Chukwuebuka Godrick, Nigeria – Las Vegas Raiders – Offensive Lineman – 22 years old
- David Ebuka Agoha, Nigeria – Los Angeles Charges – Defensive Lineman – 21 years old
- Basil Chijioke Okoye, Nigeria – Kansas City Chiefs – Defensive Lineman – 21 years old
Trailblazing Nigerians Secure NFL Roster Spots
Six Nigerian players, discovered through Osi Umenyiora’s The Uprise initiative and the inaugural NFL Africa talent camp in Ghana, were also placed on NFL rosters. Umenyiora, a two-time Super Bowl champion born in the UK to Nigerian parents, leads football development efforts in Africa.
NFL IPP Alumnus Shares Advice for New Players
Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle and IPP alumnus, offered his advice to the eight athletes joining the program:
Enjoy and respect the process. Give it everything you’ve got. Embrace the opportunity and don’t let it go to waste. Hard work will always outlast talent.
IPP participants will remain on their respective NFC North and AFC West clubs’ rosters until the end of training camp. At that time, players are eligible for an international player practice squad exemption. This grants the team an extra practice squad member. Clubs also have the opportunity to elevate the player to the active roster during the season.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
Tweet: @WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!
Photo Credit: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports