Josh Freeman To Play In FXFL

After being let go by the Dolphins during the team’s end-of-preseason cutdown to 53 players, Josh Freeman will throw his next professional pass in a non-NFL league. The Fall Experimental Football League, a professional football minor league, announced today (via Twitter) that Freeman will suit up for the FXFL’s Brooklyn Bolts this season.

Freeman, 27, was Tampa Bay’s full-time starting quarterback from 2009 to 2012, but saw the wheels come off in 2013 and was cut by the Buccaneers. In his first four seasons, the former 17th overall pick completed 58.8% of his passes and tossed 78 touchdowns to go with 63 interceptions, as well as throwing for more than 4,000 yards in 2012. Over the last couple years, he has bounced around from team to team, unable to find a permanent NFL home.

With Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore ahead of him on the depth chart in Miami this summer, Freeman was never considered a good bet to make the Dolphins’ regular season roster, barring an injury to one of the top guys, or an unexpectedly productive preseason by Freeman. The former Bucs starter completed 13 of 22 passes against his former team in Miami’s preseason finale, throwing no touchdowns and two interceptions, sealing his fate.

The Bolts’ season gets underway on October 2, so Freeman will be back in action soon. The terms of his FXFL contract aren’t known, but I expect he’ll have the freedom to work out for NFL clubs later this season, if there are any teams interested.

Extra Points: Sam, Foles, Thompson, FXFL

Conspiracy theories have emerged about Michael Sam and why he requested permission last Friday to leave the his CFL team’s training camp for personal reasons. There are still no concrete answers as to why the NFL’s first openly gay drafted player made that call, Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette writes.

In a separate piece, Zurkowsky notes that the latest theory is that Sam sensed that he wouldn’t make the Montreal Alouettes’ roster and – seeing the writing on the wall – left to save face for himself and the club. While GM Jim Popp says the door remains open for Sam’s return, another source within the organization said that’s unlikely to happen. The Alouettes officially moved the former Rams draftee to the suspended list, according to the CFL (on Twitter).

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the football world:

  • Following up on yesterday’s report about extension talks between Nick Foles and the Rams, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets that the quarterback loves being in St. Louis, but will let agent David Dunn handle negotiations. As Wagoner adds in a second tweet, the Rams are talking to a few potential 2016 free agents about new contracts, so it doesn’t sound like they’re focused exclusively on Foles.
  • Taylor Thompson‘s 2015 season is off to an ominous start. According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, the Titans tight end is facing a fine for arriving late to the team’s mandatory minicamp, and is still having issues with the knee he injured last season, raising concerns about his NFL future.
  • Former Wake Forest wideout Matt James was trying out for the Saints today at the club’s minicamp, a source tells Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter link).
  • The FXFL is getting ready to get its 2015 season underway, but Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter) hears from a source that multiple players are still owed money from last season. The FXFL had its first season in 2014, beginning in October. Since then, several players from the upstart league have found their way to the NFL.
  • Bill Williamson of ESPN.com wonders if the Raiders could be in the mix for two players released by their respective teams today, running back Shonn Greene and safety Taylor Mays.
  • Former Cowboys running back Tashard Choice is at the team’s minicamp today, but it’s in a coaching capacity, not as a player, as Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com explains (via Twitter).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFL Notes: Los Angeles, FXFL, Rice, Goodell

The NFL is planning on bringing at least one, but possibly two franchises to Los Angeles within the next 12-24 months, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If true, either the Rams, Raiders, or Chargers, or some combination of the teams, will be playing home games in Los Angeles by 2016.

Here are some more notes from around the NFL front office:

  • The FXFL, a new football league that hopes to serves as a developmental league for the NFL, has implemented a number of experimental rules that the NFL has considered in recent years. However, Florio reports that the NFL has not asked the new league to implement any rules on their behalf.
  • Ray Rice is at the crux of two concurrent investigations, one from the NFLPA and another from Robert Mueller’s investigation of the NFL’s handling of the case. He is doing so to provide full and equal access to both parties, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter).
  • Commissioner Roger Goodell updated all 32 franchises on the ongoing changes to the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy heading into the weekend, reports Jarrett Bell of USA Today. Goodell expanded his panel of experts on the subject, and took meetings with organizations and individuals at the forefront of the issue.
  • Ben Violin of the Boston Globe writes that NFL coaches are frustrated by the lack of practice time allowed under the most recent collective-bargaining agreement. He notes that teams are underprepared due to minimal practice and a cutting down of offseason workouts.

New York Notes: Richardson, Boyd, Vick

Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson isn’t happy about the fine he received for unsportsmanlike conduct, writes Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com. “I’ve never really agreed with the fines anyway,” Richardson said, “because it’s only really on the defensive guy to get a fine. Unless the offensive guy blatantly punches somebody in the face or something crazy. I think the fine system in strictly for the D.”

  • Former Jets draft pick Tajh Boyd has signed with the Florida Blacktips of the FXFL, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter). The Clemson product, who was selected in the sixth round, recently worked out for the Giants but he apparently wasn’t able to land a spot with them.
  • The trick plays the Jets have used Michael Vick in haven’t worked yet but the veteran quarterback is hopeful that will change soon, writes Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday. “At the end of the day, I’m a full-time quarterback. I do that because it’s football and I love to play the game and I like having success,” Vick said Thursday, referring to his roles in gadget plays designed by coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “So hopefully, one of these days, one of those plays will work.” For all of his diplomacy, one has to imagine that the free agent addition would be happier as the No. 1 quarterback than as a wildcat QB or a decoy.
  • Tiki Barber isn’t ready to give up on the Giants yet, writes Justin Terranova of the New York Post. “Most importantly they finally have a run game that can be consistent and that takes so much pressure off the quarterback,” Barber said. “I think it will click I just hope that they aren’t so far out of it [by the time it does]. Last year, they started 0-6 and it was a scramble and a fight and they almost got back into it. You never want to be in that situation. This weekend’s game is paramount for that very reason, 0-3 is very difficult to rebound from.”

FXFL To Launch In October

A new developmental football league plans to launch this October, under the name Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL), reports Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. Led by commissioner Brian Woods, the FXFL is not looking to compete with the NFL, but ultimately to become a developmental league for professional football.

“Our long-term goal is to establish a partnership with the NFL and we feel can do that on many platforms,” said Woods. “It would give them a way to work with younger players that they don’t currently have. We can help them train prospective NFL officials — in the NBA, every referee entering the league (in recent years) comes from NBA Developmental League. We can be a testing ground for proposed rules, too.”

The new league will start with six teams, including franchises in the New York and Boston areas and a team in Florida. The other three teams will play home games in Austin (Texas), Portland (Oregon), and Omaha (Nebraska). Games would be played mostly on Wednesday nights, to avoid overlap with either the NFL or college football.

A TV deal is also in the works, although details have yet to be released.

Apart from being a developmental league for players and referees, the league will also provide a place for experimentation with rule changes. They are already considering eliminating punts, kickoffs, and extra points from their gameplay,

The players are hoped to be recent collegiate athletes from recent draft classes, although Woods has not ruled out working with players that have left school early and are ineligible for the NFL draft. Teams would be assembled first and foremost based on regional territories, so teams would have first opportunity to sign local players. Player salaries would be $1,000 a week.