Once a promising young TE, Will Tye aims to prove he's still got it


Will Tye admits there have been a few fleeting moments over the last few years when those unavoidable thoughts and feelings crept up on him. 

“You might have that moment,” Tye said, “where you’re like, ‘man, I can’t believe this is happening.’ But after that, you get back into it.”

There’s no time for Tye to feel sorry for himself. 

There’s a lot of work to be done. 

By the way, this is the same Will Tye who once began his career with 90 catches in his first two seasons. This is the same Will Tye who had 66 receiving yards in a playoff game at the end of his second NFL season. This is the same Will Tye who once seemed to have a promising future as a tight end in the NFL. 

You might not have even realized it but Tye joined the Eagles’ practice squad last November and then signed a futures deal with the team after the season ended. And this summer, the 27-year-old has been trying to make the most of his opportunities while fighting to turn the heads of a team that might already have enough depth at his position. 

It seems like the league has forgotten about Tye, but he thinks he’s still capable of being the same productive player he once was. 

“I was out there,” Tye said after Eagles practice on Saturday. “I was out there in the fire. Playoff games. I don’t really have too much pressure because I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”

Sept. 17 will mark two years since Tye’s last regular season NFL catch. Sept. 24 will mark two years since his last regular season NFL game. Tye was with the Jets in 2017 but was released in October that year and hasn’t been on an active roster since. From New York, he went to New England’s practice squad until he was waived at final cuts last year. He signed with the Eagles’ practice squad in November and here we are today. 

But it wasn’t that long ago that Tye played in 32 games with 18 starts for the Giants in his first two years. He caught 90 passes for 859 yards and four touchdowns in those couple years and put himself in elite company. 

Take a look at the last 10 tight ends to have 90 catches in their first two years: 

Evan Engram (2017-18)
George Kittle (2017-18)
Will Tye (2015-16) 
Zach Ertz (2013-14)
Jordan Reed (2013-14)
Mychal Rivera (2013-14)
Aaron Hernandez (2010-11)
Jimmy Graham (2010-11)
Jermaine Gresham (2010-11) 
Rob Gronkowski (2010-11) 

The only two players on that list of 10 who didn’t really work out are Rivera and Hernandez. Rivera hasn’t played since 2016, but he at least finished out his rookie contract in Oakland, where he caught 146 balls in four years. And the late Hernandez obviously wasn’t out of football for football reasons. 

The rest of the guys in that group have become good to elite tight ends with 16 combined Pro Bowl appearances. And Tye can’t even find a roster spot. 

And check this out: The only undrafted tight end in the last four decades to put up better numbers than Tye in his first two NFL seasons was future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. 

When asked what keeps him going, Tye said he reminds himself of his “why,” meaning why he plays the game. For one, he has a family to support in Georgia. And, two, he still loves the game. His early-career success has just kept his hunger strong. 

With a crowded tight end room that includes four players who were on the active roster last season, these preseason games will be important for Tye. They’ll be a chance for him to show the rest of the league he’s still got it. 

“You’re always on tape; you’re always on film,” Tye said. “You always give it all you got because you want to be on a team and you want to be in the league.”

It’s been years since Tye was a productive NFL player, but he still thinks he’s got it. And he’s eager to prove it.

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