As if the big news that Case Cookus was returning yesterday wasn’t enough, today Stars fans got more good news. Kj Costello the backup quarterback for 2022 is returning, but an intriguing new offensive weapon has been added. Wide receiver Corey Coleman, a former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns several years ago has been signed by the Philadelphia Stars to play in the 2023 USFL season.
Coleman and Costello both spent time with NFL teams in 2022. While Costello was climbing the professional ladder, Coleman was doing his best to latch on with the future Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Neither would find a long-lasting home and ultimately wind up free agents ripe for the picking. The Philadelphia Stars once again show the USFL they’re playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers.
Having brought back every player who left for the NFL except Maurice Alexander who stuck with Detroit, the team has continued adding pieces from the XFL, and NFL to further their pursuit of a fifth championship appearance in a row dating back to USFL 1.0 for the Stars as a team.
Kj Costello Returns
Kj Costello got a bad rap last year. Stepping in for Case Cookus in the regular season and later in the championship game. Playing in 2 regular season games he completed 4 of 10 passes for 69 yards. No touchdowns or interceptions. He also lost 15 yards on 5 carries.
Costello is still very young at only 25 years old. He had a stint with the Chargers, in 2021 before he was released and signed with the Stars for the 2022 season. After a less-than-stellar regular season performance, Costello would enter the championship game after Case Cookus suffered a broken leg.
Entering the game in the second half, Costello had an up-and-down outing. First, he stepped into the game and threw an immediate interception. Scooby Wright intercepted the pass and rumbled 46 yards for a touchdown. Then on the next drive, he hung in there in a pass delivering a beautiful touchdown strike while getting leveled by a defender. This put the Stars within 3 points with a little over a minute remaining.
By the time the Stars got the defensive stop they needed and got the ball back, there were 51 seconds left. Drives like these are how legends are born, and backups become starters. Unfortunately for Stars fans, this was when Costello proved he still has some developing to do. Primarily in the decision-making department.
Costello would let it rip on 2nd and 3 after extending the play. Intended for Diondre Overton he had held the ball too long allowing the defender to jump the route when he finally threw the ball. This resulted in a game-dealing interception that ended the game. Costello was blasted for his performance with fans all but forgetting his gutsy touchdown pass.
Role With the Stars in 2023
Returning to the Stars for 2023, wasn’t necessarily an easy choice for Costello. He isn’t in line for a starting position. In fact with the Stars having signed Kevin Thomson this offseason, he has competition for the QB2 position. Thomson, a former CFL quarterback is no slouch and has similar experience to Costello.
Ultimately I see a scenario unfolding where Costello is the primary backup early in the season but gives way to Thomson eventually. Costello has the advantage in the early going due to previous knowledge of the playbook. However, I don’t think this will be enough for him to hold onto the QB2 spot.
A former first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, Coleman was selected 15th overall in 2016. After a solid college career that saw him improve year over year, he lit up the NFL Combine. Running a sub 4.4 40-yard dash was enough to get scouts looking, but it was his 40.5-inch vertical leap and 10-foot 9-inch broad jump that displayed the lower body explosiveness Coleman possessed. With the requisite talent and athleticism, as well as the production to back it: 34 games, 173 receptions for 3,009 yards, and 33 touchdowns, Coleman looked like a safe bet in the middle of the first round.
It wasn’t until he got to Cleveland that the team started to see chinks in his armor. It started right away with Coleman missing most of the preseason due to an injury. This would foreshadow a lot of what happened during his NFL Career. Coleman had been expected to be a starter in place of current Seattle Sea Dragon Josh Gordon who was shocker, suspended for the first 6 games of the season. This rocky start didn’t do him any favors for his future in Cleveland.
He would return to play in two games showcasing his patented speed. He caught 7 passes in two games racking up 173 total yards. Unfortunately, after flashing his talent, he broke his hand in practice forcing him to miss even more time as a rookie. He would return and start 10 out of 16 games that season. He finished the season with 33 receptions for 413 yards and 3 touchdowns adding 2 carries for 10 yards. Not exactly what the Browns had hoped when they selected him in the first round.
Year Two Yields More Struggles
In year two he returned to the Browns presumably as a starter once again. After playing in two games he again broke his same hand. This time he missed 7 games, before returning to the field in November. Playing in 9 games with 8 starts, Coleman saw his receptions, yards, and touchdowns dip. Managing just 23 receptions for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Heading into year 3 the Browns were featured on Hard Knocks which gave us a sneak peek into the mindset of Coleman when after two seasons, he was no longer receiving first-team reps. He would go speak with the coaches, demanding to be traded away from Cleveland. After dropping the pass that sealed an 0-16 season for the Browns, they were happy to oblige. Shipping Coleman to Buffalo before the 2018 season for a 7th-round pick.
Buffalo would ultimately cut Coleman during final cuts leaving him a free agent, and not bringing him back on the practice squad. Signed on September 11th, 2018 by the Bills’ division rival the Patriots, Coleman again was released just 6 days later in favor of Josh Gordon his former teammate. He would spend 9 days on the practice squad before moving on to the Giants.
New Man in New York
After the better part of a year off the field and on practice squads, Coleman was signed to the active roster on October 25th. He would play in 8 games for the Giants serving as a receiver, and kick returner. He caught 5 passes for 71 yards, averaging over 14 yards per reception. He added 1 carry for 5 yards but did most of his damage in the return game.
In just 8 games he collected 23 kick returns for 598 yards averaging 26 yards per return, with 2 returns over 40 yards. He also added a 19-yard punt return on his only attempt. He returned to the Giants in 2019, poised to take a step forward in his career. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL on the first day of training camp forcing him to miss the entire season.
Despite this, he again returned to the Giants in 2020. Re-signing with the team just days after the league year began. As a restricted free agent he had a $2.025 million tender, which the Giants did opt to pay. On September 6th, during final cuts, Coleman was released. He wasn’t done yet with Big Blue, returning in October on the practice squad, he would stick for just under a month being released in November.
Shortly after the season ended news broke Coleman had failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs. Causing him to miss six games in 2021 if signed. He ultimately didn’t sign with any teams for 2021. After a full season away from the game, in 2022, he was signed by the Chiefs in late March. He would again last most of the offseason but end up released before the season began on August 30th. He would be re-signed to the practice squad just two weeks later. He spent just under a month on the practice squad before the Chiefs cut bait for good. Meaning Coleman did not receive a Super Bowl ring.
Role With The Stars
At 5’11 180 lbs, Coleman is a burner. He has the necessary speed to be a deep threat, and the size to play outside or inside if needed. One thing about his game that no NFL team ever really utilized during his career, was his running ability. That’s right, the Stars could have been sending us a subtle message as to what kind of role we could see from Coleman in 2023. During his college career, Coleman ran the ball 33 times for 164 yards and 1 touchdown.
Am I saying he will run anywhere near that much with the Stars? No, but the possibility for Coleman to fill those carries if and when needed is there. This versatility can’t be ignored when it comes to ending up on a roster in spring football. Whether it’s as a runner, receiver, or return man, Coleman can help the Stars in many ways. This is a low-risk, high-reward signing.
Paul Terry RB/WR Released
Paul Terry who spent the 2022 season with the Stars, split time as a runner, and a receiver for the Stars’ offense. However his time with Bart Andrus, and this coaching staff didn’t begin there. In 2021 Paul Terry played for the TSL Generals as well. In his two seasons under Andrus he had collected 70 carries for 409 yards, and 5 touchdowns, adding 25 receptions for 176 yards and 1 kick return for 18 yards.
The Stars had previously loaded up at running back. Re-signing Matt Colburn, and Dexter Williams. Shortly after Jordan Scarlett was also signed by the Stars meaning they had five running backs with Darnell Holland another former TSL player on the roster as well. Between the additions at wide receiver and running back, Paul Terry became a luxury. With Terry’s release and Scarlett’s addition, the Stars quickly added some much-needed bulk to their running game. This offense is now much more well-rounded than it was at this time last season.