UFL

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/14/24

Today’s only minor move:

Cincinnati Bengals

McCarron’s release today is the result of a request that the team has decided to honor. McCarron returned to Cincinnati this season for the first time since his rookie contract expired in 2017. With starter Joe Burrow dealing with his injury early on in the season, the veteran backup was added as extra insurance on the practice squad. According to Howard Balzer of PHNX, McCarron requested his release in order to sign with the St. Louis Battlehawks of the UFL. McCarron had a successful season starting for the Battlehawks when the team was a part of the XFL. With the fusion of the XFL and USFL, McCarron and the Battlehawks will be playing in the XFL Conference of the UFL.

United Football League To Feature Eight Teams, 10-Game Season

More details have surfaced regarding the XFL and USFL’s merger, which will produce a second operation called the United Football League. The long-rumored merger will produce a league that launches March 30, 2024, with the rebranded league housing eight teams and preparing to play a 10-game season.

Eight teams comprised each of the two winter-spring leagues in 2023, but the new UFL will see half the overall franchises cease operations. Spring leagues in the United States have waged uphill battles for generations, with financial issues taking down two XFL incarnations, 2019’s Alliance of American Football and the original United Football League (2009-12) this century. Thus, it is unsurprising to see the new league refuse to expand in terms of total teams.

The March 30 date falls in between the XFL and USFL’s 2023 starting points; the XFL officially returned in February, while the rebooted USFL’s second season began in April of last year. The XFL’s third try lost money, and the USFL showed interest in a merger shortly after its latest season. Five XFL teams and three USFL clubs will transfer over. Here are those teams:

  • Arlington Renegades
  • Birmingham Stallions
  • D.C. Defenders
  • Houston Roughnecks
  • Memphis Showboats
  • Michigan Panthers
  • San Antonio Brahmas
  • St. Louis Battlehawks

Houston previously housed XFL and USFL teams; the new one will keep its XFL moniker but use the USFL’s head coach (Curtis Johnson), ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert notes. Four XFL head coaches and four USFL HCs will stay on. Former 49ers HC Mike Nolan (Panthers), ex-NFL OC John DeFilippo (Showboats), longtime Oklahoma HC Bob Stoops (Renegades), Super Bowl-winning DC Wade Phillips (Brahmas), former Jets tight end Anthony Becht (Battlehawks), former NFL wideout Reggie Barlow (Defenders) and longtime college HC Skip Holtz (Stallions) will begin the season as the UFL’s head coaches.

Phillips coached the XFL’s Houston team last season but will shift to San Antonio for this latest reboot. The Giants lost their assistant special teams coach, Anthony Blevins, in July for an opportunity with the XFL’s Vegas Vipers; they were one of the three XFL franchises that will not continue play in the UFL. Former Bills president Russ Brandon, who served as XFL 3.0’s commissioner, will work as the UFL’s president and CEO. Longtime NFL fullback-turned-FOX analyst Daryl Johnston, the USFL’s president, will lead football operations for the new league.

While the new UFL will keep spring football afloat in the U.S., moving down from 16 total teams to eight will decrease opportunities for players. Several XFL 3.0 and USFL 2.0 alums wound up in NFL training camps. The USFL produced two impact Cowboys special-teamers, with KaVontae Turpin earning All-Pro honors for his return work in 2022 and Brandon Aubrey (zero missed 2023 field goals in Dallas) on the cusp of matching that as a kicker.

Following the September merger report, Seifert adds federal regulators approved the merger Nov. 30. Training camp will begin Feb. 24 in Arlington, the site of last year’s XFL camp. The UFL will have each team practice in Arlington, per The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, before flying out to game sites each week (subscription required). Games will be televised on ABC, FOX, ESPN and FS1.