The NFL is the biggest American Football league known around the world. There’s no question about the quality or the popularity of the Super Bowl, the most-watched sports event in the USA and it’s also the single event with the most interest in the Vegas Odds. It’s safe to say that NFL players are real rock stars in the world of sports, but before the NFL ran, another league known as USFL walked.
Short for United States Football League, it ran for only three seasons in the mid-1980s. It eventually merged with the NFL and lost its name, until it was revived as a minor American Football league in 2022. The league operates 8 teams and is a subsidiary of Fox Sports. While it can’t match the talent in the NFL, the USFL has become a breeding ground for many players that eventually wind up in the NFL. In this article, we’ll check the progress of former USFL players who have made the jump to the NFL.
Levi Bell is in his first seasons after making the Seattle Seahawks roster back in July as a UDFA. He played 2022 as a senior at Texas State, where he was named PFA All-America Third Team. He also earned Defensive Lineman of the Year honors (5A Region 19), so he’ll definitely be of help if the Seahawks go for the playoffs.
He hasn’t played so far in Seattle, but at 24 years of age, the USFL alumni definitely has a bright future ahead of him.
Josh Butler played for the Panthers in the 2022 USFL season. He started all 11 games with 29 tackles and several key passes defended. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in July 2023 as part of their preseason roster. Butler actually made quite an impact during the preseason, defending 2 key passes while collecting 9 tackles. Although he was cut from the main squad, he was later signed as part of the practice squad.
Butler might be the player on this list with the best chance to actually secure a ring. If you look at the best vegas odds for nfl and other sports, the Cowboys have a real chance to finally return to the promised land this year and it would be an incredible story if Butler played a big role in that.
Khalil Davis’ story is one of the most interesting on this list. A former player for the Buccaneers, Colts, Steelers, and Rams, he signed with the Birmingham Stallions in early 2023 searching for an opportunity to play. He became USFL champion with the Stallions and was released from his contract in later July to search for an NFL team.
He found one in the Houston Texas, which is his 5th team in the NFL. He was first waived before being signed to the practice squad and later reinstated to the active roster. He’s played in a few games so far, and the fact that he was assigned to the active roster means he might have a bigger role to play for the remainder of the season.
After failing to find a spot on any active NFL roster for years, Turpin played abroad. His best performances came for the Wroclaw Panthers of the European League of Football. He made 293 offensive yards and had two touchdowns, finishing the regular season with 702 all-purpose yards. The Panthers made the semi-finals but they lost. He was re-signed for the following season, but instead opted for the USFL draft.
After being selected by the New Jersey general, Kavontae Turpin made the most out of this opportunity. He was named the MVP for the inaugural USFL season, which lead to signing with the Dallas Cowboys in the summer of 2022. He was named late in the year to the Pro Bowl, and featured in most of the Cowboys’ games. After being re-signed for 2023, he managed to record his first touchdown in September 2023 against the New York Giants. He’s one of the best success stories from the USFL to the NFL.
D.J. Montgomery is a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. He played in the NFL before signing with the Michigan Panthers in the USFL in mid-2023. After a few good performances, he was released from his contract in August 2023 to search for an NFL team. It didn’t take long for the Colts to sign him. He’s now in his second stint with the Colts, and is currently signed to the practice squad after being waived on August 30, 2023.
A quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, Alex McGough had a rough start to this professional NFL career. He was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2018 draft, later playing for the Jaguars, Texas, and against the Hawks for a second stint. He tried to revive his career by signing for the Birmingham Stallions in 2022, helping them earn their first USFL championship.
After that, McGough was signed by the Packers and was later waived, but brought back as part of the practice squad.
Another Stallions alum, Burns was signed by the Cleveland Browns for the current season. He previously had two stints with the Jaguars’ practice squad in 2021 and 2022, before helping the Stallions win their first-ever USFL championship. It has resulted in a deal from the Browns where he’s made 26 defensive tackles so far.