Ervin, Who Rescued Return Game, Will Return to Packers

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Tyler Ervin, who rescued the Green Bay Packers’ historically bad return game when he joined the team in December, is returning to the team on a one-year contract.

The agreement, which was first reported by ESPN, is for $1.047 million and includes a $137,500 signing bonus, according to the Houston Chronicle. Via the “veteran salary benefit” that’s in the new CBA, Ervin will count $887,500 on the salary cap – a slight decrease vs. his total payout. The veteran salary benefit allows teams to re-sign two veteran players (four-plus years of experience) at reduced cap charges.

Through 12 games, Green Bay’s nine punt returns produced minus-8 return yards. It had two positive returns for 4 yards, one of which ended with a fumble. No team had ever finished a season with negative punt-return yards.

With that, it was Ervin to the rescue. In the final four games, Ervin’s 11 returns produced 106 yards. He averaged 9.6 yards per punt return and 26.7 yards per kickoff return in regular-season action. He mishandled a punt at Minnesota in Week 16 and a kickoff at San Francisco in the championship game. With the offense desperate for weapons, Ervin got some run on offense. Between regular season and postseason, he carried three times for 35 yards and caught three passes for 18 yards.

“I’m glad I finally got the opportunity to kind of showcase what I can do,” Ervin said in January. “It’s just been a blast with the guys because they feed off my energy and I feed off their energy every day.”

The Packers claimed Ervin off waivers on Dec. 2 and the impact was dramatic. He returned four punts for 51 yards against the Redskins in his debut. The first went for 10 yards and immediately put the Packers into positive figures for the season. That wound up being his worst return of the day. With all four returns going for 10-plus yards, including an 18-yarder, Ervin provided a lot more than a spark.

“Swervin’ Ervin. That’s his nickname,” running back Aaron Jones said after the game. “It’s definitely game changing. It flips the field. We started a lot of drives on the plus side or midfield or the 40. Anytime you do that, you get a smile. That’s a weapon that you can use. I’m glad we have him here. Look forward to seeing him return.”

It was an unexpected spark, and not just because of how bad Green Bay’s punt-return unit had performed. In six games with Jacksonville, he averaged 21.4 yards per kickoff return and 1.8 yards per punt return. A fumble against the Jets ultimately led to his release. It was the third time he had been released – including the second time in 2019.

“I think about it constantly,” Ervin said. “It’s just a blessing. Sometimes I feel like a door gets opened and it’s just the right timing. I try not to look back and talk about the things that didn’t happen for me. I’m just focused on what’s happening now.”

Ervin was a fourth-round pick by Houston in 2016 out of San Jose State, where he not only was a standout on the football team but a popular barber.