We’ll have a spring football league in 2017, but, despite previous reports to the contrary, this particular venture will not be run by the NFL. The same person behind the now-defunct Fall Experimental Football League will spearhead a league which consists of four teams comprised of veteran free agents. The league will conduct practices and play six games from April 5 through April 26. Players who are currently on NFL rosters will not be eligible to participate.
The FXFL kicked off in 2014 and ceased to exist in 2015. It was not a fiscal success, but the minor league football operation did showcase a few players who signed NFL deals, like quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Jake Heaps. At its launch, commissioner Brian Woods said that his goal was for the FXFL to partner with the NFL as a feeder league. That did not happen and it is not clear whether that is the aim of this new spring league.
For its part, the NFL is continuing discussions with coaches, players and the competition committee regarding a developmental league of its own, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (Twitter link). As of last month, the NFL Players Association was reportedly “lukewarm, at best” on the idea of a spring league, but longtime defensive back Troy Vincent – now the NFL’s head of football operations – has been pushing for one. The concept has also drawn support from fellow heavy hitters like Seahawks general manager John Schneider, Colts GM Ryan Grigson and two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Tom Coughlin, who now works for the NFL.