The Cincinnati Bengals have signed free agent wide receiver Moritz Boehringer, who will occupy the international practice squad spot that AFC North teams are getting this year.
The former German Football League star was originally drafted by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. He was the first player ever drafted from Europe without playing college football first.
Boehringer played 16 German Football League (GFL) games on the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and had 59 receptions for 1,232 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 14 kickoff returns for 415 yards and two touchdowns. However, the transition to the NFL proved to be too difficult for him to make in his brief stint in Minnesota.
The 6’4”, 229-pounder didn’t make the 53-man roster in 2016 and spent the season on the practice squad. He was part of the Vikings’ offseason roster in 2017, but once again failed to crack the 53-man roster.
In case you need a refresher, all four AFC North teams will carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads in 2018 as part of an expansion of the International Player Pathway program. In 2017, four NFC South teams carried international players on their practice squad, and they’ll do so again in 2018.
This year, the Ravens, Bengals, Browns and Steelers will each be given an exemption for an eleventh practice squad member – ineligible to be activated during the season – with two of the players selected coming from the UK and two from Germany. The AFC North was chosen to receive the international players in a random draw.
The players include Boehringer (Bengals), German Football League player Christopher Ezeala (Ravens), former British American Football League player Tigie Sankoh (Browns) and former English professional rugby player Christian Scotland-Williamson (Steelers).
For the past three months, the players have been training alongside NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida, under the supervision of former NFLUK head of football Aden Durde, who was hired as the Atlanta Falcons defensive quality control coach after this season’s program. Additionally, IMG Academy coaches including running back coach Earnest Byner, offensive line coach Paul Dunn, defensive back coach Donnie Henderson and wide receiver coach Larry Kirksey have been coaching up these NFL hopefuls.
It’ll be fun to see how Boehringer does with the Bengals after many fans were actually interested in him in the 2016 NFL Draft.