Seahawks Sign RB Ricky Person Jr.

The Seahawks added to their backfield today. The team announced that they’ve signed running back Ricky Person Jr. to a contract.

After collecting more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four seasons at North Carolina State, Person Jr. caught on with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2022. After spending most of his rookie season on the practice squad, the running back joined the Birmingham Stallions of the UFL.

Person played sparingly as a backup in 2023, but he saw a larger role this past season. The running back finished the campaign with six touchdowns, and he notably collected 102 rushing yards in his team’s championship win.

In Seattle, Person will be competing for a bottom-of-the-depth-chart spot behind Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet. The newest addition will be going against the likes of 2023 seventh-round pick Kenny McIntosh and undrafted rookies George Holani and Kobe Lewis.

The team also announced that they’ve waived a trio of undrafted rookies. The grouping includes cornerback Ro Torrence, defensive end Rason Williams, and running back TaMerik Williams.

UFL To Return In 2025

This spring marked the inaugural season of the United Football League, the organization which came about following the merger of the XFL and USFL. Year 2 of its operation will consist of a repeat of its debut.

The UFL was comprised of eight teams playing a 10-week regular season schedule in 2024. That format ultimately resulted in the Birmingham Stallions – champions of the USFL’s final two campaigns – winning the first ever UFL title. They will be positioned to defend their crown with the same group of challengers for at least one more season. UFL executive VP of football operations Daryl Johnston confirmed (via Fox Sports’ Eric Williams) the UFL will return in 2025 with the same teams and locations in operation as last year.

“We are going to be able to dial into the details,” Johnston said. “We’re going to have a traditional offseason calendar where we can be ahead of the curve instead of being in a position where we have to chase it a little bit. I think that’s something that everyone’s excited about.”

With an average of 43.7 total points per game in 2024, the UFL slightly outpaced the scoring output of the XFL and USFL from last season. Williams notes the UFL saw a 34% jump in television ratings compared to 2023 viewership of the two former leagues heading into the championship game. Attendance remained strong in St. Louis with an average of more than 34,000 fans attending Battlehawks games, but the league’s other markets struggled in that regard. Continuity will be aimed at developing a consistent following in the other markets.

“With our home markets, we’ve got to build that trust there – that we’re not going to leave or [that] the league isn’t going to fold,” Johnston added. “We’ve got a couple cities that historically have been a part of spring football, they’ve committed to a team and that team has left… We’ve still got some trust to build in our home markets.

“I think we were selling tickets for the home opener in Houston seven days out and in Michigan seven days out. Last year was getting the merger completed, getting everything in place and then putting the season together. This year, we’ve already been planning for season two of the UFL nine months out.”

A number of UFL players have quickly landed deals with NFL teams in recent days, with the spring league serving as an opportunity for players to establish or re-build their value for prospective NFL employers. Experimenting with new rules and technology is another facet of the UFL’s operation, and developments on that front could continue into the future if the league manages to gain a long-term foothold. For now, attention will turn to 2025 with a repeat of this year’s structure in place.

Cowboys Work Out UFL DE Jonathan Garvin

Following a standout season in the UFL, Jonathan Garvin is attracting interest from NFL squads. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the defensive end worked out for the Cowboys today.

The former seventh-round pick out of Miami managed to stick on the Packers roster for the first three years of his career. His largest role came in 2021, when he got into about 40 percent of his team’s defensive snaps while compiling 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks. His defensive snaps were cut in half during the 2022 campaign, and the lineman ended up getting cut by the Packers last July.

Garvin didn’t get an NFL gig during the 2023 campaign, but he ended up reemerging with the Birmingham Stallions of the UFL. He had a productive season for the eventual league champs, finishing with 20 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

At only 24 years old, Garvin still has plenty of upside. The 6-foot-4, 257-pound defensive lineman would be hard pressed to earn snaps behind Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence, and it’s worth noting that the organization recently used a second-round pick on defensive end Marshawn Kneeland. If Dallas ends up adding the UFL standout, the player will likely be competing with the likes of Sam Williams, Durrell Johnson, and Viliami Fehoko Jr. for one of the final DE spots. Garvin’s experience on special teams provides him with an additional path to a roster spot.

Cowboys Sign CB Gareon Conley, LB Willie Harvey Jr.

The UFL’s first season is complete, and teams can now officially sign players who took part in the merged league. The Cowboys are among those who will do so, and their effort will bring a former first-round pick back into the NFL.

Gareon Conley is signing with the Cowboys, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins. This comes after the team worked out the former Raiders first-rounder last week. The Cowboys are also adding UFL linebacker Willie Harvey, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Harvey also auditioned for Dallas at its minicamp as well.

For Conley, this will be a path back to the NFL after a lengthy hiatus. Conley was last in the league as a Texan in 2020; he has not seen game action since 2019. The Cowboys have since announced the signing, which will reunite Conley with Paul Guenther. The new Dallas assistant served as Oakland’s DC from 2018-19. The Raiders drafted Conley in the 2017 first round and used him as a starter during the 2018 and ’19 slates, trading him to the Texans midway through the ’19 season. Guenther is the Cowboys’ run-game coordinator on defense.

Dallas worked out both Conley and ex-Giants first-rounder Deandre Baker. Both played for the D.C. Defenders during this UFL season. Conley, who will turn 29 later this month, intercepted two passes this season. Despite Baker earning All-UFL acclaim, he has not landed an NFL gig yet. As Conley earned a CB spot, Watkins adds no Baker deal is expected.

Part of a lengthy line of Ohio State first-round corners, Conley saw an injury interrupt his progress. He played in just two games as a rookie but received a long look during Jon Gruden‘s early seasons at the helm. The Raiders used Conley as a 20-game starter from 2018-19. Pro Football Focus assigned the 6-foot cover man mid-pack grades from 2018-19; he finished the ’19 season — after the Raiders and Texans agreed on a trade involving a third-round pick going to Houston — as a starting CB for a playoff team. Conley, who intercepted three passes in 2018, closed the ’19 season as a full-time Texans starter who worked with the first-stringers in both Houston playoff tilts that year. Conley missed the 2020 season due to a nagging ankle injury and fell off the NFL radar soon after.

This certainly represents an interesting comeback opportunity, seeing as it has now been more than four years since Conley last logged NFL game action. But the Cowboys have shown an eye for talent out of the spring leagues in recent years, having found Pro Bowlers Brandon Aubrey and KaVontae Turpin via the USFL.

The Cowboys are planning to use a Trevon DiggsDaRon BlandJourdan Lewis trio atop their CB depth chart, and the team has some recent draftees — former third-rounder Nahshon Wright and recent Day 3 investments Eric Scott Jr. and Caelen Carson — as backup options. Veteran C.J. Goodwin, 34, remains on Dallas’ roster as well. While teams can stash more vested vets on practice squads compared to the setup when Conley last played, his age would complicate that route. Still, Dallas will give the former top prospect an opportunity to make an unexpected return.

Several teams showed interest in Harvey, per Pelissero, but the Cowboys workout will lead the UFL linebacker to the NFC East. Harvey, who led UFL LBs in tackles (76) while tallying four sacks, last played as a Browns reserve in 2021. Harvey, 28, played four NFL games after entering the league as a UDFA out of Iowa State in 2019.

UFL Rumors: Davis, Saylors, Butler

As the 2024 UFL season comes to an end this weekend with the championship game between the Birmingham Stallions and San Antonio Brahmas, players in the league are now able to work out with NFL squads and should be able to begin signing NFL contracts starting Tuesday. We’ve already seen a number of names pop up as potential NFL signees to look out for this upcoming week.

One of the earliest names we saw was that of wide receiver Daewood Davis, who Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports is expected to sign with the Panthers pending a physical. Davis played at Oregon for three years in college, failing to crack the starting lineup before transferring to Western Kentucky, where he immediately blew up as a difference maker. His efforts with the Hilltoppers didn’t get him drafted, but Davis signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins. He was waived with an injury designation in final roster cuts last year but found his way to the Memphis Showboats of the UFL.

In 10 games with the Showboats, Davis caught 41 passes (6th in the UFL) for 446 yards (7th) and five touchdowns (tied-2nd). His efforts earned him one of three wide receiver spots on the inaugural All-UFL Team. If everything works out as expected, Davis could join a two-deep that currently includes Diontae Johnson, Adam Thielen, first-round rookie Xavier Legette, Jonathan Mingo, Terrace Marshall, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Here are a couple other UFL rumors from recent days:

  • Davis isn’t the only receiver the Panthers are looking at out of the UFL. Per Rapoport, Carolina also worked out the league’s leading receiver Hakeem Butler before they went to summer break. Butler is the oldest of the group we’re reporting on tonight and is the only drafted player. Butler was a fourth-round pick for the Cardinals back in 2019 after an incredible junior year at Iowa State that saw him catch 60 balls for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. A preseason broken hand kept Butler out of his rookie season, and he was waived before his sophomore campaign. The Eagles signed him and tried to convert him to a tight end, but he failed to stick in Philadelphia, as well, getting waived before the 2021 NFL season. Butler spent the next year in the Canadian Football League before signing with the Battlehawks when they were still in the XFL. He spent a short offseason stint with the Steelers this past year before finding his way back to the Battlehawks after failing to make the 53-man roster in Pittsburgh. In his second stint with the team, Butler joined Davis as two of three All-UFL Team receivers, leading the league with 652 receiving yards on 45 catches and five touchdowns.
  • Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 reports that the Giants are set to host Battlehawks running back Jacob Saylors this Tuesday. Signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals last year out of East Tennessee State, Saylors was waived in final roster cuts this past August before spending a bit of time on the Falcons’ practice squad. In nine games with St. Louis, Saylors led the UFL’s running backs with 460 rushing yards (trailing only Stallions quarterback Adrian Martinez for the league lead) while tying for second in rushing touchdowns with five. Saylors joined Davis and his St. Louis teammate, Butler, as the only running back on the All-UFL Team. After watching Saquon Barkley depart in free agency, New York may look to add Saylors to a stable that currently includes veteran Devin Singletary and first- and second-year backs Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin, and Tyrone Tracy.

Lions Expected To Sign UFL Kicker Jake Bates

TODAY, 9:05am: Bates will be inking a two-year deal with the Lions, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

FRIDAY, 10:00pm: The NFL interest in UFL kicker Jake Bates has been no secret over the past several weeks. Bates has been taking the football world by storm in his season with the Michigan Panthers out of Detroit. Now, it’s seeming like he’ll get a chance to play for the city’s NFL team as Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 reports that the Lions are expected to add the big leg to their roster.

Bates signed with the Texans last year after going undrafted but was waived just prior to the preseason. This wasn’t extremely surprising as Bates didn’t kick any field goals in college. During time at Texas State and Arkansas, Bates was utilized singularly on kickoffs, using leg strength gained in two seasons of college soccer at Central Arkansas. Finding his place in the UFL, though, Bates has taken the football world by storm.

Bates started off the season extremely hot, making 15 of 18 field goal attempts, before eventually cooling off to end the season going 21-for-28 on field goals. While the initial accuracy was admirable, what really made an impression was his leg strength. Of his seven misses, five were from over 50 yards, yet he still ended the season seven-for-12 from long distance. Of those seven makes from 50+, three of those were from 60 yards or further.

The young kicker doesn’t shy away from the spotlight either. Two of his makes have been game-winners, including a career-long 64-yarder to open the season. His 64-yard make is second to only Justin Tucker‘s 66-yarder in Detroit’s stadium. He did miss a 53-yard game-winning attempt in the team’s regular season finale, though.

Bates has received interest from a few NFL teams, but because of his contract with the UFL squad, he was unable to sign with anyone until the team’s season came to an end. With Bates’ Panthers losing to the Birmingham Stallions last weekend, the window will soon open for Bates to sign. Wilson reports that any official deal won’t be signed until Tuesday of next week. Aside from the Lions, Bates recently visited the Packers and Commanders, per Wilson. The Ravens were also listed as a team of interest, and Wilson notes two other teams showed interest, as well.

Whenever Bates does arrive in Detroit, he will be in competition with the Lions’ incumbent kicker Michael Badgley. Badgley took over late in the season for Riley Patterson, who served as the team’s kicker for 13 games last year. In replacement duty, Badgely went four-for-four on field goal attempts, though he did miss two extra points. During the team’s run to the NFC Championship Game, Badgley was a perfect three-for-three on field goals and 11-for-11 on extra points. Despite this consistency, Badgley was rarely tested in big moments. Throughout the playoffs, head coach Dan Campbell repeatedly opted to go for it in long field goal scenarios.

The only other option currently on the roster is James Turner, an undrafted rookie from Michigan. A grad transfer for the Wolverines after four years at Louisville, Turner showed inconsistent production at the collegiate level. Turner missed eight field goals and two extra points in his sophomore season with the Cardinals. He never made more than 20 field goals in a season and only had a career-long of 50 yards, so he may not be the answer to Campbell’s hesitation from long distance.

That answer could come, though, in the form of Bates. With his first opportunity to placekick last year, Bates caught everyone’s attention with early accuracy, a strong leg, and a clutch ability in big moments. If he can carry that early success into his first NFL season, he should stand a solid chance at beating out Badgley and Turner for the job in 2024.

Cowboys Audition CBs DeAndre Baker, Gareon Conley

Neither DeAndre Baker nor Gareon Conley‘s initial NFL runs lasted too long. Both first-round picks did not play a fourth NFL season, but each wound up in the UFL. Spring leagues have provided a springboard for second chances, and the Cowboys — who have led the way in value gained from the recent batch of American minor football leagues — are looking into both players.

NFL teams cannot sign UFL players until next week, as the merged league’s championship game is set for Sunday, but workouts are permitted this week. Several UFLers are receiving chances with NFL teams, and ESPN.com’s Todd Archer indicates the Cowboys are taking a look at Baker and Conley at their minicamp this week.

A 2017 Raiders first-round pick, Conley will turn 29 later this month. He has not played in an NFL game since Week 15 of the 2019 season. Conley spent the 2020 season on the Texans’ IR list. Houston had acquired Conley via trade from Oakland in October 2019. The Raiders had used the former No. 24 overall pick as a starter in every game that season leading up to the trade deadline but unloaded him for a third-round pick. This came early during the Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock years; Conley arrived during the Raiders’ final Reggie McKenzie-run draft.

Like Conley, Baker wound up with a second team after washing out early with the club that drafted him. An arrest led the Giants to waive Baker, a 2019 first-round pick, before the 2020 season. Robbery charges against the young cornerback ended up being dropped, and the Chiefs took a flier on the struggling defender. Baker played in 10 Chiefs games from 2020-21; the team waived him in August 2022. Baker allowed six touchdown passes as the closest defender in a 15-start rookie season.

Both Baker, 26, and Conley caught on with the D.C. Defenders before the inaugural UFL season. Conley intercepted two passes this season, while Baker landed on the All-UFL team last week. Neither player played in the XFL or USFL in 2023. The Cowboys have benefited considerably from the latter league, with both KaVontae Turpin and Brandon Aubrey becoming Pro Bowlers in their first seasons in Dallas. Aubrey earned first-team All-Pro recognition in his Cowboys debut.

Dallas is also working out the UFL’s tackles leader, Willie Harvey Jr., per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. The St. Louis Battlehawks defender totaled 76 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and nine tackles for loss this season. Harvey, 28, previously saw NFL time with the Browns from 2019-21, playing in just four games as a backup. Cleveland cut Harvey after its 2022 training camp. The Cowboys will see if Harvey’s UFL work has made him a better candidate for an NFL role.

Commanders, Lions, Packers, Ravens Interested In K Jake Bates

As expected, Jake Bates‘ UFL season has generated NFL interest. A number of teams are in on the recent spring/summer league specialist, whose previous NFL path did not include any game action.

The Michigan Panthers kicker has received interest from the Commanders, Lions, Packers and Ravens, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. All four teams have requested meetings with Bates, per Wilson, and ESPN.com’s John Keim notes the Commanders will be the first team to host the young specialist. That meeting is set for today.

Washington’s kicker need formed recently, after the team released offseason pickup Brandon McManus after a lawsuit alleging sexual assault emerged. The Commanders have already signed kicker Ramiz Ahmed, but the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala notes the team is looking to hold a competition between the recent signee and another option. The team also auditioned Andre Szmyt on Tuesday, per Jhabvala. Szmyt kicked for the UFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks this season.

With the UFL’s regular season ending, NFL teams are free to hold workouts. UFLers can be added next week, after the league’s weekend championship game. Considering the success the Cowboys have enjoyed with USFL players in recent years — including All-Pro kicker Brandon Aubrey, a summer 2023 addition — several of the new UFL’s top players will land opportunities to attend NFL training camps. Bates will almost definitely be one.

Bates, whom the Texans cut after barely a week during training camp last year, caught attention for making multiple 60-plus-yard field goals early this season. This included a 64-yarder. The long-range makes placed the Michigan kicker back on the NFL radar, and his second chance figures to feature a more thorough look. That said, Bates proved shakier down the stretch of the UFL season. He missed field goals five field goals over the Panthers’ final four games; that followed a two-miss performance in an April Michigan-Memphis matchup. Overall, Bates went 21-for-28 on field goals this season.

The Lions were connected to the in-state UFL team’s kicker early during the season, and the team used multiple kickers (Riley Patterson, Michael Badgley) in 2023. Detroit re-signed Badgley this offseason and added UDFA James Turner. But the team has been looking into adding another piece here, and Bates’ leg strength certainly caught attention.

Anders Carlson remains the frontrunner to kick for the Packers, but special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia mentioned a potential spring league addition (via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman) before training camp. Green Bay’s roster already houses two other kickers — Greg Joseph, Jack Podlesny — so a Bates addition would certainly be interesting from a roster-allocation standpoint ahead of training camp. Carlson went 27-for-33 last year but missed four extra points and then missed a kick in the Packers’ narrow divisional-round loss to the 49ers.

It would obviously surprise if Bates ended up in Baltimore, given that the Ravens employ arguably the best to ever do it. Justin Tucker is going into his 13th NFL season. Bates, 24, stands to land somewhere soon. His Houston work last summer does not make it a lock he will be one of the 32 kickers in Week 1, but the UFL work will give him a shot.

Lions Looking Into Options At Kicker

Since the departure of Matt Prater following the 2020 NFL season, the Lions have struggled to find constancy at the placekicking position. Twice, Michael Badgley has come to their rescue with admirable results, and though he’s set to return in 2024, that hasn’t stopped Detroit from examining all its options.

Badgley first helped out the Lions in 2022, signing with the team’s practice squad in early-October and getting promoted to the active roster three weeks later. After the team opted to move on from Austin Seibert, Badgley took over the job and didn’t relinquish it. For the rest of the year, Badgley made 20 of his 24 field goal attempts and went a perfect 33-for-33 on extra point attempts. The team re-signed Badgley for the 2023 season but cut him in July.

Instead, the team opted for Riley Patterson last season. In 13 games, Patterson only missed two of 17 field goal attempts, but when the Memphis-product missed two extra point attempts within a three-game stretch, the Lions waived him in favor of Badgley, who had remained on their practice squad all year.

Once again, Badgely gave the Lions what they were looking for. Though, he too missed two extra point attempts in his four regular season games, Badgley was a perfect four-for-four on field goals. During the team’s run to the NFC Championship Game, Badgley was a perfect three-for-three on field goals and 11-for-11 on extra points. Despite this consistency, Badgley was rarely tested in big moments. Throughout the playoffs, head coach Dan Campbell repeatedly opted to go for it in long field goal scenarios.

The only other option currently on the roster is James Turner, an undrafted rookie from Michigan. A grad transfer for the Wolverines after four years at Louisville, Turner showed inconsistent production at the collegiate level. Turner missed eight field goals and two extra points in his sophomore season with the Cardinals. He never made more than 20 field goals in a season and only had a career-long of 50 yards, so he may not be the answer to Campbell’s hesitation from long distance.

The veteran free agent market is relatively bare. With many kickers already signed or re-signed, only Randy Bullock serves as an experienced option. The 34-year-old only appeared in six games for the Giants last year, though.

Another intriguing option in free agency, though, is Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates in the UFL. Bates signed with the Texans last year after going undrafted but was waived just prior to the preseason. This wasn’t extremely surprising as Bates didn’t kick any field goals in college. During time at Texas State and Arkansas, Bates was utilized singularly on kickoffs, utilizing leg strength gained in two seasons of college soccer at Central Arkansas. Finding his place in the UFL, though, Bates has taken the football world by storm.

Coming into a game today, Bates’ stats consisted of 15 made field goals out of 18 attempts. While the accuracy is admirable, what’s really impressive is his leg strength. His only three misses have come from over 50 yards, yet he is still six-for-nine from long distance. Of those six makes from 50+, three of those were from 60 yards or further. The young kicker doesn’t shy away from the spotlight either. Two of his makes have been game-winners, including a career-long 64-yarder to open the season. His 64-yard make is second to only Justin Tucker‘s 66-yarder in Detroit’s stadium.

That being said, Bates is still under contract with the Panthers and cannot communicate with NFL teams at the moment nor can his agent. Currently, the Panthers themselves are the only ones who can communicate with any interested parties, given their ownership of his contract.

Still, Bates to Detroit makes a lot of sense. The team has an expressed desire to bring in some competition at kicker and reached out to the Panthers already, and Bates has seen all of this kicking success come in the city of Detroit at Ford Field. Bates could be the long-distance answer that convinces Campbell not to go for it next year.

The Lions may have to wait for the close of the UFL season to acquire Bates but consider them a top candidate to land his services in 2024. If that plays out, Badgely could once again be relegated to a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency role, if he doesn’t find a new home altogether.

Extra Points: Onside Kick, 18-Game Season, Olympics, UFL, Lions

Since the rule change that prevented running starts on onside kicks came to pass in 2018, the onside kick has been rendered largely irrelevant. The league greenlighting an experiment involving the XFL-style kickoff will further tilt the odds toward receiving teams, as onside kicks now must be declared in advance. Teams were 2-for-41 in onside kicks last season and 3-for-56 in 2022. The Eagles’ proposal to replace the onside kick with a fourth-and-20 play failed, just as similar offerings have in the recent past. but competition committee member Rich McKay hopes some momentum for this alternative will build in 2025.

There was a lot to do to get the kickoff proposal passed this year, so I’m for that next year,” McKay said (via the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin) of further discussion on the fourth-and-20 option. “There’s no question that, I call them the traditionalists, they don’t like that discussion very much. But I do think there’s something to discuss there. Because we’ll have another year of onside kick data, which I bet you shows us we’re not recovering very many.”

The NFL has made a few changes over the past decade to inject more drama into on-field sequences, allowing two-point conversion returns and moving the extra point back. The kickoff change qualifies as a far more radical effort; this effort going well in 2024 could open up discussion on the fourth-and-20 option a year from now.

Briefly shifting gears from draft-geared content, here are more recent news to come out of the pro football universe:

  • The NFL also recently moved its trade deadline back a week, though multiple teams championed a proposal to slide the deadline back two weeks. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recently connected these proposals to a future in which the NFL pushes its regular season to 18 games. Some around the NFL view that as likely, though Florio does not expect this long-rumored topic to become a front-burner matter until the next CBA (the current deal expires after the 2030 season). New NFLPA president Jalen Reeves-Maybin did not dismiss the idea outright. “I think that people are kind of running with it right now cause it slipped out there,” Reeves-Maybin said, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “But I think there’s a lot of other things to gain, and when that time comes, we’ll address that.” If/when this becomes a bargaining point, further expansion to the schedule will likely require a major concession from the NFL.
  • More momentum has emerged for NFL players to participate in the flag football program when it debuts at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Discussions between the league and the union have begun, and NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent said (via the Sports Business Journal’s Daniel Kaplan) he expects players to be permitted to play in the Olympics.
  • The USFL and recent XFL incarnations have sent players to the NFL; the Cowboys carry two Pro Bowlers (Brandon Aubrey, KaVontae Turpin) from the USFL. The new UFL has produced a player to monitor early. Michigan Panthers kicker Jake Bates, who has made a 64- and 62-yard field goals already, has drawn interest from multiple teams, per the Detroit News Tony Paul. The Lions have reached out to the Detroit-based UFL club, Paul adds. NFL teams can contact UFL clubs about players, Birkett adds, but they are not supposed to contact players directly. The Cowboys added Aubrey after last year’s USFL season; Bates cannot join an NFL team until the UFL’s season wraps. Until this UFL season, Bates — a Central Arkansas soccer player and Texas State kickoff specialist — had not made a field goal in a game since high school. The Texans waived him after barely a week last year, but this UFL start certainly puts him on the radar for another NFL opportunity.