August 31 was a sad day in Tampa for the Ivy League and recent alumnus Nate Lawrie ’04.
The Bucs released three Ancient Eight alums Tuesday — Lawrie; Casey Cramer, Lawrie’s minicamp roommate from Dartmouth; and veteran NFL quarterback Jason Garrett, a Princeton alumnus.
Lawrie had signed a contract with Tampa Bay almost exactly a month prior to Tuesday’s release. But it was not all bad news for Lawrie and his living partner. Lawrie was picked up off the waiver wire by the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki. Likewise, the New York Jets picked up Cramer, though he was subsequently cut.
“If [Lawrie] passes the physical, I would assume he will at least be on the practice squad because it is game week in the NFL,” Siedlecki said. “If the Eagles don’t activate him during the season, they will probably assign him to NFL Europe in the spring and bring him back next preseason. Practice squad is over a $100,000 and NFL Europe is $50,000, so he’s still not doing too badly.”
Yale defensive end Carl Williott ’06, who often faced Lawrie during practices, thought his former teammates’ NFL dreams were anything but over.
“He’s a strong blocker, but he also has great hands,” Williott said. “I think with his frame he can put on some weight and still have his speed. He has all the tools. I expect to be playing with him in Madden 2006.”
Siedlecki said Lawrie, who was unavailable for comment, was disappointed by the Bucs’ decision but has to be ready to take advantage of his opportunity with the Eagles.
Tampa Bay had six tight ends in camp, and kept three veterans, one of whom is also their long snapper.
Still, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden had some encouraging words about Lawrie and Cramer, who had been converted to fullback in camp.
“[Lawrie and Cramer] are two young guys that have talent,” Gruden said, as reported in the Bradenton Herald. “They just need more experience. They just need some time to develop their skills.”