The New Jersey Generals have claimed QB Kyle Lauletta off waivers from the Pittsburgh Maulers. The Generals wasted no time claiming Lauletta, who was released earlier today by Pittsburgh, to make room for the addition of Slippery Rock QB Roland Rivers.
Division rival Michigan released QB Shea Patterson earlier in the day, who was claimed on waivers by the New Orleans Breakers. The USFL has seen a lot of QB activity in the last few weeks, partly due to the roster expansion and production issues.
Both Kyle Lauletta and Shea Patterson were first-round picks in the QB portion of the USFL Draft three months ago. They join Ben Holmes, the fourth overall selection by New Jersey, as quarterbacks who were projected to be starters whose original team has released. Interestingly enough, Kyle Lauletta was benched for Josh Love, who the Maulers released, only for him to be claimed by the Panthers. Lauletta was handed the starting job with Pittsburgh, only to lose it to free-agent pickup Vad Lee.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for USFL quarterbacks as the league prepares to enter Week 7.
The signing of Kyle Lauletta by The New Jersey Generals
The New Jersey Generals currently have four quarterbacks on their roster. But that number could change in the coming days. The team has Luis Perez, De’Andre Johnson, and Guy Myers and has now added Kyle Lauletta to the mix.
DeAndre Johnson, who had taken over the starting job from Luis Perez two weeks ago, went down to a left ankle injury in the first half of last weekend’s game against the Houston Gamblers. Perez, who had started the Generals’ first three games, played the hero last week and led New Jersey to their fifth straight victory last Sunday.
As a result, head coach Mike Riley and the team are fully confident in Perez’s ability to lead the team forward. But the Kyle Lauletta signing signifies concern about DeAndre Johnson’s status moving forward. One team insider relayed to me on Tuesday that the feeling was that Johnson’s injury wasn’t severe and that he was week to week. But perhaps new information could surface that suggests otherwise.
At the bare minimum, Johnson could be transferred to the team’s weekly inactive/practice list for the time being. Whether or not Guy Myers, who spent last week on New Jersey’s practice squad, remains with the team remains to be seen. It will all depend on the severity of Johnson’s injury long-term.
Once upon a time, Kyle Lauletta, the Richmond standout, was the apple of the football scouting world’s eye. The Pennsylvania native broke passing records with the Spiders (Over 10,000 yards passing, 93 touchdowns) and then parlayed that into an impressive run during the draft process in 2018. Lauletta was invited to play in the 2018 Senior Bowl, in which he threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP. The superb performance, combined with his prototypical stature (6’3 225), vaulted the small school superstar up NFL team’s draft boards.
The New York Giants selected Lauletta in the 4th round, but he fell out of favor very quickly and landed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Lauletta would spend two seasons with the Birds before bouncing back and forth between the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020-2021. The Browns waived him in January of this year. After four seasons, Lauletta’s regular-season stats in the NFL in mop-up duty were 0/5 with one interception.
On February 22, 2022, Lauletta was drafted in the 1st round with the seventh pick of the 2022 USFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Maulers. The USFL was supposed to be the first pro league to give him an extended opportunity to play and show his wares as a quarterback.
Unfortunately for Lauletta, with the 1-5 Pittsburgh Maulers, things didn’t go well for him in his redemption arc. Lauletta split time at the start of the season with Josh Love. He then regained the starting job when Love was released, only to be replaced by new arrival Vad Lee, who led the Maulers to their lone victory of the season. With Pittsburgh, Lauletta made two starts and completed only 48 percent of his passes, for 269 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
Several USFL teams have started more than one player at quarterback in the season’s first six weeks. So it’s possible that Lauletta could see the field again with New Jersey. But, likely, he will only be an insurance policy the rest of the way.
Additional Generals Roster Moves
With injuries mounting and teams reshaping their rosters. It’s likely that from here on out, USFL teams could be doing some weekly roster shuffling until the end of the season.
The expansion of active rosters by two, and practice squads by three, has given teams some wiggle room to mix and match. After making five additions last week, the Generals have already added two new players to the mix this week. New Jersey has signed WR Landon Lenoir from Southern Illinois. And the Generals have also inked Western Illinois TE, Mason Sikes. Both players figure to be on the team’s practice squad as they get acclimated.
Mason Sikes is a 6’4, 240lb TE who finished his collegiate career at Western Illinois. In 2021, Sikes played in eleven games, making three starts. He ended the year with 14 receptions for 155 yards and averaged 11.1 yards per catch. The Generals have had injury issues at TE all season long and are looking for additional depth.
Landon Lenoir was a standout performer in Southern Illinois. The 6’1 192lb pass-catcher finished his career ranked No. 3 in career receptions (204), No. 2 in receiving yards (2,615), and No. 5 in receiving touchdowns (19) at SIU. In 2021, Lenoir was voted the Team MVP by his peers and led the team with 61 catches for 876 yards and 10 TDs. Undrafted after playing for the Salukis, Lenoir signed on with the Chicago Bears as a UDFA but was promptly released on May 9th. A quick exit from the NFL led to his entry into the USFL.
As chronicled and reported here on Monday, the North-leading 5-1 New Jersey Generals are a win or a Maulers-Panthers combined losing effort in Week 7 from clinching a playoff berth. At this point, the only scenario where the Generals could miss the playoffs is if they lose their remaining four games, starting with this Saturday against Tampa. And then have the Stars go 3-1, with their only loss being to Michigan, and the Panthers run the table to go to 5-5. In that wacky scenario, Philly wins the North at 6-4, and Michigan would get the second and final playoff spot in the North because they would have a 4-2 divisional record, while New Jersey would fall to 3-3 within the division.
New Jersey would love to eliminate any absurd possibilities by taking care of business immediately on Saturday afternoon.