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NFC East Proving The USFL has NFL Talent, 3 Players Signed, Multiple Tryouts

It’s a been 2 full weeks since the USFL Championship Game, and finally the NFL has started to show interest in USFL players.

We are just two weeks removed from the Championship game, and finally, we are hearing USFL names signing with NFL teams. We knew it was only a matter of time before names started coming off the board. However, it’s been interesting to see which players came out of the USFL first.

Players Who Have Already Signed:

Christian Sam

The first player to announce a deal was LB Christian Sam. Sam has signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Sam is no stranger to the NFL, and that is what led him to be signed first. Having been a 6th-round pick of the Patriots in 2018, it has been injuries that have slowed him down so far.

Sam landed on the injured reserve nearly immediately after arriving at camp. He was placed on injured reserve on September 1st, 2018. He would spend the entire season on IR, only to be released during final cuts the following year in 2019.

He would latch on with Miami, but they would let him go just 9 days after signing him. He spent the rest of that season bouncing around. He would have stops in San Francisco and Detroit. Neither team kept him very long, with his longest tenure being with Detroit when he signed in December of 2019. He was signed on December 17th, and not released again until August 9th, 2020.

He would languish on the open market for over two calendar years before getting his opportunity in the USFL. Ultimately what makes this signing odd, is that Christian Sam didn’t even finish the season with the original team that brought him in.

Released Once Again

Christian Sam was able to get drafted in round 21 by the Tampa Bay Bandits. The Bandits however cut him mid-season. On June 7th the Bandits let him go, and he was immediately claimed off of waivers by the New Orleans Breakers.

The Breakers to their credit would go on to make the playoffs next to Birmingham. Even this was nothing that phased Sam, who had won a Super Bowl ring during his first stint in the NFL. Christian Sam lands in Dallas where he will add depth, and play special teams. The Daryl Johnston connection to Dallas certainly helped facilitate this signing and helped two other players get workouts with the team.

Staying in the NFC East:

DeJuan Neal

Washington Commanders have signed a pair of USFL defensive backs. The first man they brought in was Dejuan Neal. Neal spent the past season with the New Jersey Generals, one of the hottest teams in the USFL.

DeJuan Neal was another interesting signing. Having played in a very deep secondary, Neal produced just 14 tackles. He is expected to contribute on special teams, and add depth at cornerback but if you’re expecting starting-level play, you will need to look to the other man Washington signed:

Channing Stribling

Stribling needed a chance to showcase himself to make it back to the NFL. The USFL provided him with that chance. He would go on to lead the league in interceptions and forced incompletions. He would finish the season with 7 interceptions, and another 11 pass deflections.

Shalom Luani is the only other player to come anywhere near his stats in coverage, but even then he had two fewer interceptions and two fewer forced incompletions.

Stribling is another player on this list that is no stranger to the NFL. Stribling has played in nearly every professional league that was available to him. Spending 2017-2018 bouncing around the NFL with five stints on four different teams.

In 2019 he played for the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football. Following the collapse of the AAF, Stribling was signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL. He was signed on September 23rd, 2019. By October of 2019, Stribling was hearing his name called in the XFL draft by the Seattle Dragons. During his stints with the AAF, and the XFL he was able to collect film in 13 games, with 11 starts.

He would collect 33 tackles, and 2 interceptions for 33 yards. After the XFL again folded thanks to Covid-19, Stribling signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats once again.  However shortly after he put pen to paper, the 2020 CFL season was canceled.

After hearing the 2020 season would be canceled in Canada, Stribling opted out of his deal, instead deciding to try out The Spring League. This time with the Generals of the Spring League, allowed him to meet Brian Woods and making a connection that would help him in the future.

 After the 2020 TSL season, Stribling opted back into his contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the 2021 season. This time it wasn’t just to the practice roster. He started 4 games but collected just 6 tackles and nothing else.

He would go on to start just 7 games for the Stars this season, missing 3 games to injury, and still managed 1 interception a game all season long. Now following the best season of his career, he will once again get an opportunity to play in the NFL with Washington.

Players Receiving Try-Outs

Chris Odom-Led the league in sacks and received three work-outs already. We haven’t heard news of a deal yet, but Odom is a solid pass rusher who offers youth, and production. One of these three teams will give him a deal without a doubt. It just remains to be seen which one. If there is one position outside of quarterback, where you can never have too many good players, it’s at defensive end.

Domenique Davis– Per PocketAces: Domenique Davis has received interest from two teams in the NFL. Currently these teams have not been publicly announced as of yet. Davis is a 6’3 315 lb scheme versatile defensive tackle/nose tackle, so the possibilities are endless as to what team might be showing interest. I will however be trying my best to get the news out of Domenique when I speak to him on July 20th. Set a reminder at the link below. Maybe we even announce Domenique has signed an NFL contract.

Kavontae TurpinPer The dynamic return man, receiver, and running back looks to the Dallas Cowboys for a try-out. He is expected to serve primarily as a return option in the NFL at first, but Dallas could use some help at wide receiver as well. Turpin’s versatility is the key to his game, and Dallas realizes just how valuable he can be at the NFL level.

Although Turpin’s on-field talent is unrivaled, his list of off-the-field issues is as well. Having been involved in multiple domestic violence incidents. This derailed his NFL career before it ever started, and resulted in his lack of interest at the highest level. The thing is, the NFL can deny talent for only so long, and Turpin wouldn’t be the first player to put their past behind them and find a successful NFL career while keeping themselves out of trouble for the rest of their career. Tyreek Hill comes to mind.

Maurice Alexander-Per @fishsports: Another player receiving interest from Dallas. Alexander and Turpin are essentially competing for the same roster spot, as both aided their teams as return men and receivers. Alexander is also a former dual-threat Quarterback, and running jet sweeps, or lining up in the backfield isn’t out of the question for Alexander. Again Dallas looks at one of the most explosive return men in the league. It would appear that they would like to take Tony Pollard off the return unit going forward.

NFL Interest Will Aid USFL Longterm

As much as the USFL doesn’t want to lose its most explosive players, they need a player pipeline to the NFL to attract the best talent available after NFL cuts. There is still a possibility one or more of these guys return to the USFL in 2023 depending on how their seasons pan out. I expect if Turpin and Odom get signed they will be on an active roster, while Channing Stribling I believe sticks in Washington as well.

The other two players aren’t as big of a sure thing at the NFL level and it’s unclear how their teams truly view their roles, but both could see time on special teams, and as depth on defense if they play well in training camp. Ironically it’s the first two players signed, that I least expect to make an active roster coming out of camp.

My biggest takeaway here is the fact that it seems no one USFL team is receiving a significant of more work out offers. So far Philadelphia (2), Houston (2) have a slight edge over New Jersey (1), New Orleans (1). Four teams still haven’t seen players receive publicly reported interest as of yet. Those being Michigan, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, and Tampa Bay. Somewhat surprising to see no Stallions players getting the call so far.

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