Landry Jones

XFL Commissioner On Manziel, Kaepernick

The XFL is still weeks away from its relaunch, but Vince McMahon’s second try at professional football has already come under fire for its refusal to allow players to leave for the NFL. In an interview with Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, commissioner Oliver Luck made it clear that the policy won’t change anytime soon. 

If there’s one thing we learned from watching the Alliance it was that quarterback play is critical,” Luck said. “In the game of football today — whether it’s pro, college or even high school arguably — your quarterback play is determinative. So we made an effort to sign guys, some of whom played in the AAF but the vast majority didn’t.”

The league’s policy already prevented Josh Johnson from joining the Lions back in November. Critics felt that the XFL should have allowed the veteran to go to Detroit, but Luck & Co. held him to his commitment with the Los Angeles Wildcats.

We said, ‘No, we’re keeping him. He ours. He signed a contract. He’s committed to us,’” Luck said. “Once a player signs a contract — once he passes his physical and signs a contract — then he’s under contract with us. We won’t release that player to the NFL until after our season. We need certainty. We can’t just have guys peeling off.”

Luck also disclosed that the Steelers inquired on Landry Jones and Phillip Walker after Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury. The XFL, of course, turned down both requests.

While the XFL protects its own signal callers, they won’t go chasing the two biggest names on the open market. Luck sounded less than enthusiastic about the possibility of Johnny Manziel and Colin Kaepernick joining the fledgling league.

“Johnny has his own history, and we have coaches from the CFL who have seen him close up,” Luck said when asked about Johnny Football. “He was in the draft pool. Coaches and scouts looked at him and didn’t think he was going to help their team. I think the guys we have on our teams are the best 560 that aren’t playing in the National Football League.”

As for Kaepernick, Luck characterized his “salary demands” as being “way out of [the XFL’s] ballpark.” As a result, he was “never really a viable option,” for the league.

XFL Assigns QBs To Teams

The XFL draft gets underway on Tuesday, but the league’s eight teams already have their starting quarterbacks penciled in. Here’s the breakdown: 

[RELATED: XFL Projects $55K Salary For Players]

The rest of the 71-man rosters will be filled by the two-day draft, which will include the selection of other quarterbacks. Interestingly, Zach Mettenberger and Joe Callahan are in the draft pool, but were not in this initial group.

The XFL season will open on February 8, 2020, shortly after the Super Bowl.

XFL Signs Landry Jones

The XFL has its first player. On Thursday, former Steelers quarterback Landry Jones agreed to sign with the XFL. 

Jones’ exact destination is TBD. He will be drafted by “one of the XFL’s eight teams” in October, according to the league’s press release.

We’re excited to welcome Landry to the XFL as our first player and first quarterback,” said XFL Commissioner and CEO, Oliver Luck. “He’s an accomplished athlete with outstanding college credentials and pro experience, and his heart and desire to play football epitomizes the type of individual we want in the XFL.”

Jones, meanwhile, says he “can’t wait to suit up.” Indeed, it’s been a while since Jones saw meaningful action. His last NFL game came in December 2017 when he started in place of Ben Roethlisberger. In previous seasons, Jones flashed some ability in his Big Ben fill-in opportunities.

Last year, Jones had a cup of coffee with the Jaguars. Then, this offseason, he spent some time with the Raiders before being released in May. Earlier this month, he worked out for the Lions, but left Detroit without a deal.

Despite his recent unemployment spell, Jones remains on the NFL radar. He first put himself on the map at Oklahoma where he set Big 12 Conference records in passing yards (16,646), completions (1,388) and touchdown passes (123).

Lions To Workout QBs Josh Johnson, Landry Jones

The Lions are looking for quarterback depth behind Matthew Stafford. The team is bringing in veterans Josh Johnson and Landry Jones for workouts, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

As Garafolo points out, current backup Tom Savage left yesterday’s preseason game after his head hit the turf, necessitating this move. Savage has a history of concussion issues, so it’s possible he’ll be sidelined for a while. Former Bears and Dolphins third-stringer David Fales is currently the only healthy quarterback on the roster behind Stafford.

Johnson is a legendary journeyman, already having spent time with 12 different NFL teams in his long and winding career. The 33-year-old turned into one of the best stories of the 2018 NFL season when he was signed off the street by the Redskins late in the season and suddenly thrust into the starting role. He played about as well as could’ve been expected, but has remained unsigned this offseason.

Johnson recently turned down a contract from the Ravens as he apparently felt he wasn’t going to be anything more than a short-term camp arm. Jones, a 2013 fourth-round pick of the Steelers, notably spent a few seasons as Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup. He was always somewhat competent when forced into action, but Pittsburgh eventually decided they wanted to upgrade, cutting him on the eve of the 2018 season. He briefly latched on with the Jaguars but spent most of the year out of the league. He spent a couple of months with the Raiders earlier this offseason before getting released.

Jones, Michael To Work Out For XFL

Both Landry Jones and Christine Michael enjoyed short stays on AFC South rosters last season. Jones caught on with the Raiders this offseason before a May release. Each will now explore a new option.

Jones, Michael and former Packers fullback Aaron Ripkowski are three known players who will work out for the XFL at an upcoming showcase, the restarting league announced recently (via Twitter links). All three will work out in Dallas, which is one of eight sites where these summer showcases will take place.

While the Dallas and Houston auditions are this weekend, the other six XFL cities — New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, Tampa Bay, St. Louis — will run theirs between June 14 and July 13. There will likely be a host of familiar names at these tryouts, considering what happened to the Alliance of American Football earlier this year.

XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said the teams will start signing players after their respective showcases but added there will be some type of out clauses for them to accept NFL offers. The XFL also plans to have a dispersal draft in September or October. The purpose of said draft will be divvying up the players who do not make NFL rosters this summer.

If a guy signs with us and then three weeks later, prior to our draft, has an opportunity to go to an NFL team, we’ll say, ‘Take the opportunity,’” Luck said, via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith. “After the draft, we’ll expect those players to stay. If they think they have an opportunity in the NFL they have to do that before the draft.”

The Jaguars briefly employed Jones last year but cut the longtime Steelers backup after a three-week stay. The Raiders opted for Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman over the 30-year-old veteran.

Michael did not participate in any known workouts after the Colts cut him in late September. Michael, 28, enjoyed a productive stint with the 2016 Seahawks (469 rushing yards, six touchdowns) but spent the 2017 season on IR and most of the ’18 campaign unemployed. The Chiefs signed Ripkowski, a three-year Packers fullback, to a reserve/futures deal this year but cut him after the draft.

Raiders Release QB Landry Jones

The Raiders released quarterback Landry Jones, according to a team announcement. The move will make room for tight end Erik Swoope, who agreed to sign with the club this week. 

Jones signed with the Raiders in March with hopes of finding a spot on the depth chart behind starter Derek Carr and backup Mike Glennon. Apparently, the Raiders prefer Nathan Peterman to Jones, who was once viewed as one of the league’s best No. 2 QBs.

The Steelers dropped Jones last September after he spent five seasons as Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup. He’ll likely latch on somewhere else, but probably won’t get much in the way of financial guarantees.

AFC Notes: Smith, Harris, Broncos, Raiders

Telvin Smith‘s announcement that he would spend the 2019 season away from football was one of the more surprising developments in recent years. Smith is only 28, and no one seems to be sure exactly what happened or why. That apparently includes the Jaguars, as the team has yet to have any “one-on-one communication with him” since his announcement, according to Albert Breer of The 2017 Pro Bowler had just said a couple of days before that he wanted to stay with the Jaguars, which followed a rocky offseason between the two sides which included trade rumors.

Breer also notes that those trade rumors might not be dead quite yet. Breer says he knows of teams that were interested in trading for the linebacker before the draft, and that those teams “are keenly monitoring the situation” as it unfolds. It wouldn’t be totally shocking if a trade materializes at some point. Smith has started 60 out of a possible 64 games for the Jaguars the past four seasons, and he’s had multiple interceptions in each of the past three campaigns.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Speaking of Smith, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone emphasized he wasn’t thinking about football when it came to his player, per the team’s official site. “For me, I kind of put football to the side,” Marrone said. “That, to me, is an afterthought right now in concern with Telvin.” He continued, saying “I really believe in my heart that Telvin knows that we’re here to support him in any which way. Not just myself, but the coaches, the organization, his teammates. I’m sure he’s aware of that. All we can do is make sure we pray. He knows that if he needs some support, obviously we’re here for him.” Marrone also said the team would welcome him back if he chooses to return.
  • Things appear to be inching in the right direction between the Broncos and cornerback Chris Harris. We heard last week there had been some communication, and then just a couple of days ago that the two sides had exchanged offers. Harris, who has made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons, is scheduled to make only around $8.5MM in 2019, and is looking for a substantial raise. He was originally reported to be seeking at least $15MM annually, and it’s unclear if he’s backed down from that. Denver’s GM John Elway and Harris’ agent spoke again today, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). Klis reports that “negotiations are focusing on short-term deal,” so it doesn’t sound like Harris will be landing anything super long-term as he enters his age-30 season. It sounds like things are progressing toward a deal of some sort, but Klis does caution there’s “still work to do.”
  • The Raiders will have an interesting battle for their backup quarterback job this offseason, with a few ‘big names’ in the mix. Mike Glennon, Nathan Peterman, and Landry Jones are all currently on the roster behind Derek Carr. Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes that he thinks Glennon will be the number two, Peterman has a good shot to stick as a number three, and that Jones doesn’t have much of a chance at cracking the team. Tafur writes that Jones “should hope to get a real look somewhere else come training camp,” and cracks that he’s “getting paid to tell Gruden all of Antonio Brown’s favorite plays from Pittsburgh.” Jones has been decent enough when he was forced into duty for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, but the rest of the league clearly has never thought too highly of him as he’s found it very difficult to find a home after Pittsburgh moved on to Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph.

Raiders To Sign QB Landry Jones

The Raiders signed quarterback Landry Jones, according to a team announcement. He’ll join Derek Carr, new addition Mike Glennon, and Nathan Peterman in a suddenly crowded QB room. 

Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup for a few seasons, Jones saw the Steelers go with Joshua Dobbs and rookie Mason Rudolph in 2018. Jones landed with the Jaguars, but the stay was brief. He also worked out for the Redskins, Bills, 49ers, Patriots, Cowboys, and Bucs last year.

Up until the Jags deal, Jones spent his entire NFL career with the Steelers. In a limited sample of playing time, Jones completed 64% of his throws with eight touchdowns against seven interceptions. Among the quarterbacks who have thrown at least 160 passes between 2013 and 2017, Jones ranked 35th in passer rating and 26th in adjusted net yards per attempt, but it’s difficult to assign much relevance to those numbers given his lack of reps.

Of course, the Raiders could still go shopping for a quarterback in the draft and they may still be eyeing another former Oklahoma QB in Kyler Murray.

Bucs Work Out QBs Jones, Peterman

The Buccaneers have three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, but none of their passers’ statuses with the team are guaranteed beyond this season.

Tampa Bay worked out Landry Jones and Nathan Peterman on Tuesday, Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan tweets. Wide receivers Devin Smith and Bradley Marquez were also among the players who took part in Tuesday’s tryout.

The first day teams can sign players to reserve/futures contracts is New Year’s Eve, so teams will be looking for possible adds. While Jones would not profile as a developmental project, having been a backup for several years, Peterman would.

Despite his struggles when called upon in a two-year career, Peterman has now worked out for three teams. Prior to his Bucs audition, the Lions and Broncos brought him in. Other teams may have their eye on Peterman for a futures deal, with The Athletic’s Greg Auman noting (via Twitter) the former fifth-round pick has other workouts scheduled.

Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup for a few seasons, Jones saw the Steelers go with Joshua Dobbs and rookie Mason Rudolph this year. Jones landed with the Jaguars, but the stay was brief. He also worked out for the Redskins, Bills, 49ers, Patriots and Cowboys this year.

Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s contract expires at season’s end, and the Bucs can part ways with Jameis Winston free of charge as long as he passes the fifth-year option physical. It’s not certain Tampa Bay will jettison Winston, but the expected new coaching staff may not be too keen on the embattled and often erratic passer being around on a $20MM salary. Third-stringer Ryan Griffin is also a free agent at season’s end.

Redskins Hope To Sign QB Josh Johnson

Following season-ending injuries to starting quarterback Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy, the Redskins are naturally seeking some help behind Mark Sanchez. We learned earlier today that the team was set to audition a handful of signal-callers, and now there are two more names to add to the list. JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington reports (via Twitter) that Washington will work out quarterbacks Landry Jones and Ryan Mallett today.

However, it sounds like the organization already has their eye on one quarterback in particular: Josh Johnson.’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the Redskins are hoping to sign the veteran. There are some hurdles that both sides need to overcome, including Johnson’s status as the recent number-one overall pick of the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football.

The 32-year-old Johnson has bounced around the NFL and UFL since being selected by the Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. The veteran’s last NFL action came in 2013, when he ran for 20 yards on seven carries in two games with the Bengals (he didn’t attempt a pass during his time in Cincy). His last extended look came back in 2011 during his final year in Tampa, when he completed 19 of his 36 pass attempts for 246 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions (to go along with 67 rushing yards).

Working in Johnson’s favor is his relative familiarity with the Redskins’ system. Head coach Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator during Johnson’s stint in Cincinnati, and Gruden was also an offensive assistant with the Buccaneers during the quarterback’s rookie campaign. Johnson is obviously a different game manager than both Smith and McCoy, but the Redskins may be enticed by the free agent’s presumed ability to quickly learn the playbook.

Mallett had spent the past three seasons in Baltimore as Joe Flacco‘s backup, but he’s yet to find a new gig since hitting free agency. Meanwhile, Jones had a brief stint with the Jaguars this season, although he didn’t end up seeing the field for Jacksonville. The team is also reportedly set to audition E.J. ManuelT.J. Yates, and others.