The USFL has multiple things going for them since the season was completed. Not only did they manage to complete a season, but they also have continued the success of finding “diamonds in rough” so far having 49 players sign NFL contracts including Stars like Channing Stribling, KaVontae Turpin, and Luis Perez. But the question I’ve been asking is, can the USFL continue to dominate the Alt-Football pipeline moving forward?
Each day the USFL continues to grab headlines with either players getting signed or making plays during training camp. Whether it be Bailey Gaither running past 1st Round Draft Pick Kyle Hamilton during routes, or the dynamic play-making ability of Victor Bolden, USFL alumni continue to put the NFL on notice and prove the legitimacy of spring football.
Now this is not something that is extremely foreign to see. After the AAF and XFL 2.0, hoards upon hordes of players began showcasing their skills in NFL camps with many of them still making an impact today day. Newshub Reporter and XFL insider Mike Mitchell is constantly updating uneducated folk on the transition of alt-league players to the NFL. In 2019, the AAF after folding sent 54 players to training camp, after ending the season in April. Going into camp into 2021, the XFL 2.0 sent 42 with many of them seeing significant playing time, like Taylor Heinicke, Storm Norton, and Josh Johnson. This was down from the 58 players the XFL had transition in 2020.
Many of these players continue to make impacts on their team and while the imprint of the AAF has faded, players like D’Ernest Johnson and Garrett Gilbert continue to keep the memory alive and serve as a talking point for many remembering the fondness of the league.
With the previous two leagues setting a precedent, the USFL has now taken the reigns as the newest and brightest pipeline for the NFL to look at candidates whose scouting departments may have missed. With 48 signings and a plethora of injuries taking place in NFL camps, the USFL will continue to garner interest from NFL teams. However, when the XFL takes place in February of 2023 will the USFL be able to maintain 50-60 players per season?
Let’s face it not many players want to play in the XFL or the USFL, regardless of pay the end goal of any perspective professional football player is to play in the NFL and when it comes down to it these players will use these spring leagues as a steppingstone to reach those goals. In 2023 two leagues will play football and both leagues will be feasting over the 700 players getting cut from the NFL and now looking for jobs. But for a player recently cut from an NFL squad it’ll obviously come down to where they think lies the best opportunity to get back into the league.
Personally, I do believe the XFL does have a slight advantage, it has nothing to do with Dany Garcia, The Rock or Redbird but everything to do with timing. With the XFL season taking place between February to April, players have opportunity to not only get a full season of film, but also will be to adequately rest up and may be even to participate in NFL rookie camps. USFL players do not have such a privilege as once the season ends NFL training camp begins and those aches and bruises don’t have much time to heal before getting banged around once again.
Overall, I do believe it’s crucial for the USFL to capitalize on this year head start on the XFL. From talent to marketability the USFL right now has an advantage with the fact that they not only completed a season, but they also have granted 48 players an opportunity to reach their NFL dreams and while two players (Kyle Sloter and Osrius Mitchell) have been cut so far, the league is definitely succeeding as the premier pipeline for players looking for another opportunity.
Regardless of if you’re pro-XFL or pro-USFL, around 800 young men will be gainfully employed playing football in a non-NFL capacity in 2023. Do I think the USFL next year will send about 60-70 players to the NFL? No, however I do think that between the 2 leagues it’s an extremely reasonable number to meet. With all the opportunity players will find their way to the NFL and with each USFL player that signs to the NFL it grants them more creditability. Hopefully, in the future both leagues can co-exist and become sustainable pipelines to the NFL, because in reality who wouldn’t want to watch football year-round!
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