Established in 2017, the NFL International Player Pathway (IPP) program “aims to provide elite athletes from around the world with the opportunity to earn a spot on an NFL roster.” This year, eight international players joined NFC North and AFC West teams (per the league’s website):
- Bears: OL Roy Mbaeteka, Nigeria
- Lions: TE Patrick Murtagh, Australia
- Packers: DL Kenneth Odumegwu, Nigeria
- Vikings: DL Junior Aho, France
- Broncos: DL Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi, Nigeria
- Chiefs: OL Chukwuebuka Godrick, Nigeria
- Raiders: DL David Ebuka Agoha, Nigeria
- Chargers: DL Basil Chijioke Okoye, Nigeria
The NFC North and AFC West were the two divisions that had yet to participate in the program, and this is the first year that the NFL is opening the program to two divisions. The IPP program allows these teams to carry an additional international player on their practice squads during the regular season.
“To see this hugely talented group of players be allocated to NFL rosters is very exciting, and a testament to the success of the NFL’s global football development programs for international athletes,” said NFL executive Peter O’Reilly. “The International Player Pathway is a critical program in identifying, supporting and enabling athletes from around the world and we look forward to seeing each players’ NFL journey unfold as they become global ambassadors for the sport.”
Per NFL.com, the six Nigerian players participated in Osi Umenyiora‘s The Uprise initiative and were participants in the NFL’s inaugural talent camp in Ghana. Alumni of the IPP program include Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, Commanders defensive end Efe Obada and defensive tackle David Bada, and Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson.