XFL

Extra Points: Haynesworth, CBA, XFL

We have unfortunate news, as former NFL defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is dealing with a serious health issue. Haynesworth is battling kidney disease, and he recently took to Instagram to announce he was in desperate need of a transplant, per Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports. Haynesworth posted a caption that reads as follows:

“Some of you may know I’ve been battling kidney disease for a few years now the time has come family, friends and fans I’m in dire need of a kidney mine have finally failed me on July 7 2019. It’s hard to believe from being a professional athlete to only 8 season in retirement that my body has taken another major blow. First with the brain aneurism (sic) 3 seasons out of the NFL to now my kidneys failing me. But the bright side of this latest ordeal I can ask for help by asking for someone to generously donate a kidney. If you are interested in giving this precious gift please call Vanderbilt at 615-936-0695 and hit option 2. GOD BLESS thank you for your prayers and thanks for sharing this message.” 

Haynesworth entered the league as a first-round pick of the Titans back in 2002, and became one of the league’s best defensive tackles. He was a back to back first-team All-Pro in 2007 and 2008. The Tennessee product played ten seasons in the league before hanging them up following the 2011 campaign. All of us here at PFR wish Haynesworth the best and send him our thoughts.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • There’s been a lot of talk about a proposed 18-game schedule recently. Ever since it was leaked that owners planned to push for an extended schedule in the next round of CBA negotiations, there’s been a lot of pushback. In response to that pushback, the league is reportedly planning on pitching a plan for 18 games, but where players are only eligible for 16 of them. In order to guarantee players don’t have to play more than they currently are, each player would have to sit out at least two of his team’s games. In that hypothetical scenario players wouldn’t have to play more than they currently do, but they apparently aren’t buying it. Some people in the NFLPA are “suspicious of the idea of an 18-game schedule with only 16 games for players to be eligible, believing it will morph players playing all 18 some day,” according to veteran NFL reporter Jason Cole (Twitter link). It’s understandable why the union would be skeptical, as the idea of star quarterbacks being forced to sit out at least two of their team’s games likely wouldn’t last very long. In all likelihood, the schedule will stay the exact same in the next CBA.
  • The XFL held its last showcase today, and some more notable names were in attendance. In addition to the presence of Connor Cook and Trent Richardson, which was previously reported, quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back David Cobb, tight end Clay Harbor, and defensive end Jacquies Smith were all in attendance, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Mettenberger, who had a brief stint as the Titans’ starting quarterback a handful of years ago, was playing in the AAF before that upstart league folded. Cobb, Harbor, and Smith all had somewhat notable stints in the league.
  • In case you missed it, Dak Prescott doesn’t plan on taking a hometown discount from the Cowboys.

XFL Commish Talks AAF, Recruiting, QBs

World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon is the big name associated with the upcoming XFL, but the league’s commissioner has the difficult job of building a successful infrastructure. Fortunately, Oliver Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, is more than qualified for the position; following an NFL career, Luck earned his law degree before running MLS teams and collegiate programs.

Luck is now tasked with running an alternative option to the NFL, something that several of the league’s predecessors have failed to do. Several months ago, it looked like the XFL would be going head-to-head with the Alliance of American Football, but now they’re the only reputable spring league. The eight teams are already ramping up their efforts for a 2020 debut, and each organization has a head coach in place.

Now, the league is turning their attention to attracting players. In October, about 300 participants from the XFL’s Summer Showcase will be signed and entered into a draft pool, at which time the eight teams will fill the “bottom half” of their rosters. The league will look to fill the rest of their rosters with players who are cut loose by NFL squads following the preseason (more than 850 players will be released at that time). The XFL will have another chance to add players in January, when practice squads end and players aren’t retained via futures contracts.

Luck talked with Greg Auman of The Athletic about the XFL’s plan for recruiting players and what he’s learned from the AAF. The entire article is worth a read, but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below.

On what he learned from the defunct Alliance of American Football, which is still dealing with fallout despite shutting down in April:

“I was speaking with Vince, and one of the questions he asked was ‘What are you worried about?’ I said ‘I think schedule-wise, etc., we’re in pretty good shape, but I do worry though about players’ motivations after the other league collapsed.’ I’m really looking forward to all these showcases, today included, to talk to these guys and it’s been very refreshing to see they just want to play more football. They know where our eight teams are, they know who our head coaches are, they trust we’re going to have a game that’s not too outlandish or crazy. To see the motivation and excitement these guys have has been good for us. It took away any doubt I had that players might say ‘Oh, gosh, another spring league. I don’t want to do that. They never make it.’ That sort of thing. That was important.”

On both the successes and failures of the AAF:

“We watched them closely. Personally, there was no dancing on the grave, no schadenfreude. I was hoping they’d make it through their championship game. … It’s helped us a little bit, reaffirmed our model. The AAF also made some mistakes. (The Apollos), in the sports business, that’s like a pilot forgetting to turn the engine on.”

On NFL-ineligible collegiate players who may spurn the NCAA for professional football (the NFL requires players to be at least three years out of high school):

“We won’t have many, but we’ll have a couple. They’ll be some guys with college eligibility still who say ‘I’d rather go earn sixty grand’ … anybody is eligible. Having said that, as I’ve said to our head coaches, I want to make sure the younger guy is physically, mentally, emotionally mature enough to play. If you’ve got a guy who played a year of ball at Florida State, got a lot of snaps and stuff.”

On whether the NFL is focused on attracting younger players or veterans:

“We have to be able to make sure that some of the older guys can make it through, to be blunt. We have to make sure some of younger guys know what it means to be a professional. I think there will be a combination of guys. We want to be a league of opportunity.”

On attracting (relatively) big-name quarterbacks to join the XFL (Luck specifically focused on the Seahawks backup gig between Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch, noting that the “loser” could realistically make just as much money in the alternative league):

“We’re watching the backup quarterback camp battles. One of these guys is going to get cut. There’s a bunch of those going on. We might not get all of those guys, the quote-unquote loser of those, but a Geno or Paxton is not going to end up on a practice squad. There are a bunch of 3-4-5-year guys that are in that boat. They’ve been on rosters, practice squad, been yo-yo’d two years. They need to play, and that’s my argument to them, that it’s very doable here.”

Extra Points: Patriots, Caserio, XFL, Coaches

The prospect of the Patriots receiving compensation from the Texans for VP of player personnel Nick Caserio does not appear to be completely off the table, despite the recent Texans statement indicating they were no longer pursuing him. But the Patriots’ asking price might dissuade the Texans. The Patriots would likely demand a first-round pick from the Texans for Bill Belichick’s right-hand man, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes. This would be a steep price for an executive, especially one whose contract is up in 2020.

Conflicting reports have emerged about Caserio’s desire to leave New England, but the longtime Patriots exec seemingly has a great chance of becoming a GM after the contract that prevents him from doing so expires. Interestingly, Curran adds that Caserio and current Texans executive vice president Jack Easterby — a former Patriots staffer who has been in the middle of this story — share an agent. The Texans, however, admitted they were not aware of the clause in Caserio’s deal that prevented GM interviews.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • We’ve been hearing a lot about the XFL recently, as the upstart league has held a series of showcases across the country, with some big names showing up. Vince McMahon’s reboot is looking to pickup where the AAF left off, albeit more successfully, and they’ve been coming up with some creative new twists on the game. Oliver Luck, the league’s commissioner, said recently that the XFL is “considering an overtime format much like penalty kicks in soccer or shootout in hockey. Teams alternate plays from the 5-yard line, five tries each, to determine winner,” per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s certainly an interesting idea, and Auman adds that Luck said it should take less than ten minutes to wrap up.
  • There’s also been a lot of talk recently about the lack of diversity on NFL coaching staffs, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The league is looking to address the issue, and recently held a minority coaches summit, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora writes that the “two-day seminar was put in place to shed light on the plight of minority coaches on the offensive side of the ball and to help identify and cultivate a pipeline of diverse coaches with a background coaching quarterbacks.” The whole piece is interesting and worth a read, as La Canfora breaks down everything that went down at the conference. The event was “punctuated by detailed and moving discussions” led by big-time NFL names like Jim Caldwell and Pep Hamilton.
  • In case you missed it, Eli Manning said he isn’t particularly worried about Daniel Jones coming for his job.

 

Extra Points: Bears, XFL, NFL Salaries

The Bears had some “inside information” on undrafted lineman Alex Bars, leading to the rookie’s signing. As Adam Jahns of The Athletic writes, Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand was Bars’ position coach at Notre Dame.

The talented lineman suffered both a torn ACL and MCL this past September, leading to him missing the season and going undrafted. The organization believes Bars was a draftable talent, and Hiestand was able to vouch for the six-foot-six, 315-pound lineman.

“There is no question he would had been [drafted] — there is no question,” Hiestand said. “We benefited from that. I personally know the guy that did the surgery. His son plays sports with my son back there. And he was like super confident on what was done. People are playing with what he had done all over the place.”

The Bears brought Bars along slowly during their offseason workouts. However, assuming he gets fully healthy, the lineman will have a chance to earn a roster spot.

“He’ll have the chance because he’s smart,” Hiestand said. “He understands the technique. He knows what to do. … But when we put the pads on that’s when you make or don’t make the team.”

Some more notes from the football world:

  • The XFL’s salary structure will be different than that of the defunct Alliance of American Football, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic. The standard salary will be around $60K, while the top-tier quarterbacks could earn up to six figures. The AAF generally handed out non-guaranteed, three-year deals worth $250K. We recently heard that this paid gig could be enticing to players who are not yet eligible for the NFL Draft. Players who are forced to wait three years until after leaving high school could jump to Vince McMahon‘s football experiment 2.0 to jumpstart their professional career rather than play for free in college while risking injury.
  • With NBA free agency starting this Sunday, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com prepares for the pundits who will compare the impending deals to those in the NFL. Outside of each league’s respective salary caps, Florio points to a variety of reasons why basketball players tend to earn more than football players, noting that the NBA has more games and smaller rosters. Most notably, Florio believes the NFL’s top players “don’t squeeze teams for top dollars the way they could or should,” and he focused on the deals signed by Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson. Finally, Florio defends the NFL’s non-guaranteed contracts, noting that NFL deals would be significantly shorter if they were guaranteed.
  • How much money will Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd make on his next contract? One writer believes he should be eyeing deals signed by Giants receiver Sterling Shepard and Raiders wideout Tyrell Williams.

QBs Mallett, Daniels To Work Out For XFL

Ryan Mallett and B.J. Daniels are eyeing another shot at professional football. The two former NFL quarterbacks (along with a long list of hopefuls) are participating at this weekend’s XFL Summer Showcase in Tampa Bay (full list via Emoy Hunt of The Athletic on Twitter).

The XFL Summer Showcase will take place in eight major cities through June and July. The invite-only workout is for players who recently completed their college eligibility, previously participated in the NFL, or played in an “alternate football league.” The event, which operates similarly to the combine, is intended for those seeking “potential XFL opportunities.”

Mallett, a 2011 third-round pick out of Arkansas, was once considered to be the heir apparent to Tom Brady in New England. That didn’t end up being the case, and the quarterback ultimately bounced between the Texans and Ravens. In 21 career NFL games, Mallett completed 55.1-percent of his passes for 1,835 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. His last NFL appearance came in 2017 with Baltimore.

Following a standout career at South Florida, Daniels was selected by the 49ers in the seventh-round of the 2013 draft. The former signal-caller was a practice squad mainstay until 2017, although the Seahawks gave him a handful of appearances in 2015. That season, Daniels earned snaps at wideout, and assuming his NFL career has come to an end, he’ll have finished with as many career receptions as pass attempts.

Other notable participants include running back Matt Jones, who had 950 rushing yards with the Redskins between 2015 and 2016. Former Colts linebacker Antonio Morrison, former first-round safety Matt Elam, and former Buccaneers defensive end George Johnson will also be in attendance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Montgomery, Bears, Miller, XFL

The Bears drafted running back David Montgomery in the third round back in April, not long after they traded away Jordan Howard. Montgomery has the opportunity to earn a large role this offseason, and so far it sounds like he’s been seizing it. Per Adam Jahns of The Athletic, Montgomery was lighting up the Bears’ OTAs and minicamp. Jahns writes that the Iowa State product “led the rookies, if not the entire team, in highlights made during the offseason program.”

Montgomery was somewhat of a bruising runner at Iowa State, so there was some concern coming out of college about how he’d fare in the passing game. That hasn’t been an issue so far, as Jahns writes that he “excelled in running routes and catching passes,” and that he “looked like a problem for the Bears’ defense.” Per Jahns, Montgomery has both teammates and coaches excited. Tarik Cohen will play his usual role, but he’s never going to be able to handle a full allotment of snaps with his frame. It’s early, but it sounds like Montgomery could take over a featured role as a rookie.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Bears sound pleased with Montgomery’s development, and that isn’t the only good news Chicago fans are getting. In the same piece, Jahns reports that the team expects both tight end Trey Burton and receiver Anthony Miller to be ready for training camp. Burton underwent offseason sports hernia surgery, while Miller had surgery to repair a torn labrum. Both players had missed the team’s recent minicamp and OTAs. Burton’s first year in Chicago was a bit of a disappointment after the big contract that he signed, while Miller showed a lot of flashes in a rookie season that was limited by recurring shoulder issues. Both players could be in for a big 2019 if they can stay healthy.
  • The XFL has been gearing up for their first season back recently, holding a series of showcases across the country. A bunch of familiar names have popped up, and we have a new one tonight courtesy of Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tommy Streeter, a 2012 sixth-round pick of the Ravens, will participate in the XFL’s Tampa showcase on Saturday, Auman reports. Streeter won Super Bowl XLVII with Baltimore, although he was on injured reserve at the time. He was cut by the Ravens following his rookie season, and the receiver then had stops with the Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Jaguars. Most recently, the Miami product played in the CFL in 2016.
  • In case you missed it, 2017 Seahawks second-round pick Malik McDowell is facing charges of assault, resisting arrest, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Extra Points: Edelman, AAF, XFL

We haven’t heard a whole lot about the defunct Alliance of American Football since the league suspended operations back in April. However, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic, former league owner Tom Dundon has filed “as an unsecured creditor” for the AAF and is claiming he was convinced to buy the league via “misrepresentations.” Dundon is seeking the entirety of the $70MM he invested in the company.

The league initial secured financing from Reggie Fowler, who is currently under indictment for bank fraud. That’s when Dundon, who owns the Carolina Hurricanes, entered into the equation, as he helped make up for Fowler’s failed commitment by purchasing the league. At the time, the perception inside the league office is that Dundon simply purchased a majority stake in the company to obtain the technology behind its gambling app.

However, a lawyer told Kaplan that Dundon may have two new objectives. For starters, he was looking to “remove himself from any litigation from creditors.” Second, by opting for the “misrepresentation” charge, the league’s executive/board insurance policies could come into play, which would then “open a new pool of money.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the football world…

  • Dundon will have a difficult time convincing the courts that he’s not responsible for the AAF’s $48MM in liabilities, reports Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. Specially, when Dundon “assumed all of the operational costs,” this meant he was responsible for making payroll. Furthermore, his public declarations that he would continue to invest money (around $250MM) into the league indicates that he was both prepared and capable to pay for any debts. Finally, considering Dundon’s standing as the Hurricanes owner, he has millions of dollars coming in each year that could be used to pay off creditors.
  • Former NFL safety Rahim Moore auditioned for the XFL last week, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. The 2011 second-rounder bounced around the NFL during his professional career, and he started 41 games for the Broncos between 2012 and 2014. The 29-year-old recently participated in the AAF, and he understands that an opportunity in the XFL would also come with its fair share of risks. “It’s still football, you know?” Moore said. “There’s a risk in everything you do. But if you love something, man, just go do it.”
  • Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman is currently on a promotional tour for an upcoming documentary, and the Patriots wide receiver discussed what he went through during his four-game suspension to start last season. “It was a low time,” Edelman said (via Florio). “You’re already battling mentally if you can do it like you did it. And then all of a sudden you have this, you’re dealing with this, and then you’re dealing with everyone outside of your life and what people are saying and dealing with and you can’t really get too involved into because you’re ultimately trying to get yourself back to playing football. It’s not like you’re 100 percent going out here and dealing with all these things, and you’re fine. You still have a task at hand, and that was one of the biggest parts of my journey back — one of the toughest times where I really had to compartmentalize with how to deal with my injury, my suspension, with being a balanced family member and getting back from my injury. And that was a very tough time. . . . It was honestly — it was probably the toughest time of my life at that point.”

Extra Points: XFL, AAF, Saints

The new XFL is confident that it can succeed, in large part because of its willingness to take on players who are not yet eligible for the NFL Draft, as ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert writes. Players who are forced to wait three years until after leaving high school could jump to Vince McMahon‘s football experiment 2.0 to jumpstart their professional career rather than play for free in college while risking injury.

XFL commissioner Oliver Luck estimates that his league will feature somewhere between five and 15 of these players in 2020. To establish a pipeline of young talent, he hopes to work in concert with the NCAA.

The NCAA would have a pretty good argument,” Luck said, “to be able to say, ‘Hey, you don’t have to go to college to play professional football in the NFL.’ You could spend a year in college and then go to the XFL, and then in a couple of years you could be in the NFL that way.”

From a business perspective, it would be a major boon – the XFL could add players who already have a fan base at a fraction of what they’ll earn at the NFL level. In fact, establishing this pipeline could be the XFL’s only real path to success. Otherwise, the league will have to draw from the outer fringes of the football world to fill out its rosters, which could make it tough for the league to keep fan interest in the long run.

Here’s more from the world of football:

  • Speaking of alternative football leagues, Seth Wickersham and Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com took a deep dive into the short-lived Alliance of American Football. The AAF crumbled in the midst of its inaugural season when new investor Tom Dundon decided that the league did not have a path to profitability. As Wickersham and Rothstein write in their must-read investigative piece, the ambitious spring league lacked a common vision among its key figures, resulting in a mess of damaged reputations, bankruptcy, and lawsuits.
  • Free agent defensive tackle Tomasi Laulile, who was on the Saints‘ practice squad last season, has been suspended by the NFL for the first two games of the season, veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. Laulile re-signed with the club on a reserve/future contract in January, but was waived on May 13.

Extra Points: Jaguars, Smith, XFL, Vikings

The Jaguars escalated the tension between them and linebacker Telvin Smith recently. Even though Smith announced his intention to sit out the 2019 season last month, he still hasn’t ironed things out with the team and remains on the active roster for now. He obviously didn’t show up for the team’s minicamp this past week, and the Jaguars decided to fine him. Per Demetrius Harvey of LockedOnJaguars.com, Smith posted a photo to Instagram detailing the fines.

In total, the Jaguars fined him $88,650. He posted the fine letter with a caption of “Oh y’all thght [sic] it was a game!!! You say you wanna sit & get ya life right. . . they say nah […] you pay me!!!” also adding “It’s still love!!” The last we heard, Jacksonville still hadn’t had any direct communication with Smith since his shocking decision to step away. Smith is still only 28, and no one seems to know his motives yet for wanting the year off.

Here’s more from around the football universe on a quiet Saturday night:

  • The XFL is starting to ramp up operations ahead of their 2020 debut. They’ve been holding tryouts in different parts of the country recently, and many former NFLers have popped up, like Landry Jones. According to a tweet from the league’s Washington D.C. franchise, former Jets receiver Jalin Marshall will be in attendance at the next one. Marshall signed with New York as an UDFA back in 2016, and immediately carved out a role for himself. He was a contributor on offense, and also was the team’s punt and kick returner for a while. He was suspended for four games in 2017, and the Jets waived him when he came back from his suspension. He played for the Orlando Apollos of the ill-fated AAF, and spent two days on the Raiders’ roster back in May.
  • The Vikings have been big spenders, aggressively pursuing free agents like Kirk Cousins in recent years while also locking up their own guys. It’s created some cap issues, and Minnesota has been up against the cap all year long. According to a recent analysis from Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune, that’s going to continue in 2020. Per Goessling, the Vikings currently have $211.6MM in cap charges for 2020 on the books. The salary cap this past season was only 188.2, which means the Vikings will have to make some significant cuts next offseason. Goessling lists offensive tackle Riley Reiff, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes as players who could be on the chopping block next year. All four will be at least 30 next season, and all of them have cap numbers of at least $12.9MM, Goessling points out. Minnesota GM Rick Spielman is going to have to get creative.

Extra Points: XFL, Giants, Vikings

The AAF may have imploded in spectacular fashion, but that doesn’t mean people are done taking cracks at spring football leagues. Vince McMahon’s XFL is gearing up to start play early next year, and they’ve already made some big hires. They’re now moving on to filling out the rosters, and some recognizable names are resurfacing. We heard a couple days ago that Landry Jones, Aaron Ripkowski, and Christine Michael would be auditioning, and now we have even more names to report. Trevone Boykin, Lance Dunbar, Kony Ealy, and Ahmad Dixon were at a showcase yesterday as well as a handful of other ex-NFLers, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

According to a tweet from Optimum Scouting’s Erik Galko, former Seahawks receiver Kasen Williams will also be among those trying out. Finally, a tweet posted by the XFL Houston account shows that NFL veterans Will Hill and Robert Meachem also participated in a camp. Meachem is 34 and last played in the NFL with the Saints back in 2014, so this would be quite the comeback. While the XFL will still be facing an uphill battle, they do appear to be in better position than the AAF. McMahon seems fully invested in the league, and the TV deal the league has is far superior. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Speaking of the XFL, one of their big hires was when they named Daryl “Moose” Johnston the director of player personnel for their Dallas franchise. Johnston was the GM of the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders, so he has experience in this type of league. Most players in the AAF and XFL were looking to get back to the NFL, and it’s no different for coaches and execs. Johnston wants to be an NFL GM one day, per Machota. Johnston spent all 11 years of his pro career with the Cowboys as a fullback, winning three Super Bowls with the team. He made the Pro Bowl twice and has done a lot of broadcasting work for FOX since retiring.
  • Evan Engram missed the Giants’ recent minicamp, which raised some eyebrows. But thankfully he’s not dealing with anything serious, as Engram said today at Landon Collins‘ charity softball game that the Giants were just being “cautious” by holding him out, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link). He also writes there’s “nothing lingering from last season.” Engram had a breakout rookie season in 2017, but took a step back last year while dealing with injuries. Hamstring and knee injuries limited Engram to just 11 games last year, but he finished strong down the stretch. In each of his last four games he finished with at least 75 yards, so he should be poised for a bounce back 2019 campaign.
  • 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes got off to a solid start last year. The Vikings cornerback had a pick-six in the first game of his career, but his rookie season ended in devastating fashion. The UCF product had his season ended by a torn ACL after just six games, and has been rehabbing ever since. Things appear to be going well, but the team is being cautious with him. To that end, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer recently said that he wouldn’t get any practice in until training camp at the earliest, per Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune. We heard recently the Vikings were listening to trade offers for both Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, which would seem to indicate they’re optimistic about Hughes’ recovery.