Nick Boyle doesn’t like change all that much. He’s kind of old-school like that, and that’s what makes him perfect for Baltimore.
Boyle signed a three-year deal Thursday morning with the Ravens, keeping him off the open market, where there were reportedly “no less than 10 teams” interested.
Boyle would have signed earlier had his agent not told him to stay patient and let interest from other teams roll in. In the end, he reportedly got $18 million over the next three seasons.
Why didn’t Boyle wait four more days to see some offers from other teams?
“I wanted to come back here right away,” said Boyle, who compared the free-agency process to being like a rubber band stretched in both directions.
“I didn’t want to go to another team. I don’t think [my wife] Kristina did, either. We love it here. We love the relationships. Is it interesting to see where I can go? As long as I thought [the deal] was fair and something that we wanted here, I would just come back here.”
Boyle has formed a close bond with Head Coach John Harbaugh, who has been recruiting him to stay for the past year, new Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, who was his position coach the past two years, and his fellow young tight ends, Maxx Williams and rising rookies Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.
Boyle also felt a sense of loyalty to his “first love” the Ravens, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2015 out of Delaware.
The Ravens have stuck with Boyle through two suspensions for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and now see him as a linchpin in their offensive plans moving forward.
In a “1950s-like” Ravens read-option offense, the Ravens needed to keep their old-school blocker. With Roman as offensive coordinator and Lamar Jackson under center, the Ravens plan to run the ball a lot. To do that effectively, they must have an excellent blocking tight end.
Harbaugh said Boyle is “the best blocking tight end in the league,” and at least one general manager outside of Baltimore reportedly feels the same.
The Ravens will line up Boyle in a variety of different ways as Roman looks to keep his run schemes fresh and deceptive. Boyle is almost like a sixth offensive lineman who can also catch. His physicality in the trenches gives Baltimore the edge it’s looking for.
“Nick is a huge piece of our offense going forward from the standpoint of how he plays, the tone he sets, the type of player he is,” Harbaugh said.
Boyle wasn’t always the physical mauler that he’s become. One big change early on set him on the path toward Thursday’s big contract signing.
In his youth, he played basketball because he was tall and skinny and didn’t particularly like hitting people. He didn't start weight lifting until his gym teacher took attendance and Boyle didn't want to miss. He didn't start to enjoy football until he was a high school junior.
In his four years at Delaware, Boyle averaged 25 catches per season and didn’t top 1,000 yards for his career. He “played like a Raven” in Baltimore’s eyes.
“He’s our kind of player,” Harbaugh said. “He’s what, I think, Baltimore fans really appreciate and love about their football team, and he’s going to be with us for the long haul.”
With his new deal in hand, don’t expect much to change about Boyle, however.
Will he want to catch the ball more? Is he itching to score his first career touchdown (he had his first one called back last season)? No and no.
Some fans question why a tight end with 75 catches for 613 yards and zero touchdowns in four seasons would get such a big deal, but Boyle isn’t bothered by it.
“That’s a huge thing, like ‘Oh, paying this guy a lot, and he didn’t get a touchdown.’ Whatever they want to say, they can say. It’s not hurting my feelings,” Boyle said.
“I have a lot of pride in what I do. Whether it’s catching a pass or having a really key block on a certain play, I think I get the same satisfaction out of it.”
When it comes to his personal life, Boyle also didn’t want change and doesn’t foresee it coming. He grew up in New Jersey, so his parents can still drive down to M&T Bank Stadium to watch him play. He and his wife, whom he met in high school, don’t have to ship their dogs across the country (that was kind of a big deal to them, too).
Boyle doesn’t plan to change his thrifty shopping. He bragged about getting a good deal on some button-up shirts at Walmart.
“We’re not going to really be buying any more clothes and stuff,” said Boyle, who expects his first purchase to be a new remote control car. “We’re still at Nordstrom Rack and stuff. We’re not going to Nordstrom.”
Oh, and crushing opponents in the trenches and hurdling over them when he catches the ball, he’s still expects to do that, too.
“I’m still going to bring everything I bring to the table and still keep my game the same,” Boyle said.