Ex-Gaelic football GK Charlie Smyth inks deal with NFL giants Saints

The NFL introduced a new initiative for international players for the 2024 season. Each of the 32 NFL teams now boasts an extra slot on their practice squad, welcoming athletes from diverse backgrounds like rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit. This expansion not only fosters cultural exchange but also enhances competition and innovation within the NFL landscape.

The Kansas City Chiefs eagerly embraced Louis Rees-Zammit, marking a significant step towards globalizing American football. Former Gaelic football goalkeeper Charlie Smyth joined him by signing a deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Saints sign former Gaelic GK Charlie Smyth

Charlie Smyth secured a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. At just 22 years old, the Northern Irish athlete entered the NFL’s International Player Pathway program.

The young star’s signing marks a promising addition to the team under the guidance of New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. His journey to the NFL included trials alongside other notable athletes like Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan as well as former Connacht rugby player Darragh Leader.

Standing tall at 6-foot-4 and weighing 210 pounds, Smyth’s physical prowess caught the attention of scouts during his workout at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. His inclusion in the NFL’s International Player Pathway initiative proves the league’s commitment to global talent development. It offers opportunities for athletes outside the United States to compete at the highest level.

Smyth emerged as a prime contender for the Saints’ kicking position following intensive training at IMG Academy and participation in the NFL Scouting Combine. His arrival presents a formidable challenge to incumbent kicker Blake Grupe, who assumed the role after the departure of long-time specialist Wil Lutz.

Grupe’s performance last season proved his reliability, hitting 30 of 37 field goal attempts and maintaining a perfect record on point after touchdown attempts. However, Smyth’s arrival signals a competitive offseason as both kickers vie for the starting role.

Five interesting facts about Charlie Smyth

While Saints fans are excited to welcome Charlie Smyth to their team, here are 5 fascinating facts about the player.

  • 1. Charlie Smyth made history by becoming the first Irish player to sign with an NFL team through the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. This initiative aims to scout elite talents globally, offering them a shot at securing a spot on an NFL roster.
  • 2. Before his NFL venture, Smyth excelled as a goalkeeper in Gaelic football for Down GAA’s U20 team. He perfectly displayed his athleticism and precision on the field from a young age.
  • 3. The young star showcased his skills at the NFL Scouting Combine by impressively hitting 12 of 16 attempts. His performance highlighted his adaptability and potential to transition from Gaelic football to American football.
  • 4. Smyth continued to turn heads at his pro day at the University of South Florida. He hit 8 of 10 field goal attempts, including an impressive 60-yard effort.
  • 5. Smyth’s journey to the NFL didn’t happen overnight. He had been nurturing the aspiration for almost five years, as evidenced by his proactive approach to reaching out to the NFL in 2019 for a tryout. His determination has now resulted in a remarkable opportunity to showcase his talents on an international stage.

What’s your take on Charlie Smyth’s potential in the Saints’ squad?


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Maliha is an insightful sports writer with over a year of experience focusing on the NFL. Initially venturing into both NFL and NBA coverage, her journey began without a particular affinity for American football. However, her passion for the sport blossomed as she started following football more. Now, a huge NFL fan, Maliha meticulously follows every development within the league. She always wants to ensure her analysis is comprehensive and up-to-date to fellow readers.


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