The XFL’s 2020 season lasted just five weeks, but it didn’t end due to the league’s failure. Shortly after the coronavirus outbreak caused virtually every major sporting event to either be cancelled or postponed, the XFL followed suit. While the league gave us plenty of excitement throughout its shortened season, several players proved they are worthy of finding another job in the NFL.
Quarterback P.J. Walker was the first XFL player to get signed, followed by cornerback Deatrick Nichols and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. They probably won’t be the last.
Let’s run though the guys that some NFL teams should look at, broken down by position.
Johnson, who is 33 years old, has played for 13 different NFL teams since 2008. He most recently played in the regular season in 2018 with Washington. He joined the Lions last preseason and didn’t make the roster, and he almost signed with them again last year after Matthew Stafford was placed on injured reserve. But the XFL prevented that from happening.
Given Johnson’s experience as a backup and his impressive performance this season, he could find himself on an NFL roster some time soon.
Storm Norton, OT: The LA Wildcats took Norton as their No. 1 overall pick in the XFL Draft. The former Temple offensive lineman was signed to the Lions’ practice squad in 2017, getting called up to the 53-man roster for one game. He then had stints with the Cardinals and Vikings, but was waived by Minnesota last August.
Cam Phillips, WR: The Houston Roughnecks wideout led the XFL in receiving, with 455 total yards and nine touchdowns on 31 catches. He was so good each week, he was named the league’s star of the week for 60 percent of the season!
For the third time in five weeks, Cam Phillips is your XFL Star of the Week.
Week 5: 10 catches, 122 yards, 2 TDs.
Season: 31 catches, 455 yards 9 TDs. pic.twitter.com/BC370KS2kF
— XFL (@xfl2020) March 10, 2020
Phillips went undrafted out of Virginia Tech in 2018 and signed with the Bills as a free agent that spring. He was on Buffalo’s practice squad before being called up to the active roster in October, but he had just one catch in two games before getting waived the next month. He re-joined the practice squad before getting released last August.
Donald Parham, TE: Parham finished with 305 yards and four touchdowns for the Dallas Renegades, which ranked third in the league and was 174 more yards than any other tight end. At 6’8’, 240 pounds, he’s got some great size for a tight end. This year’s draft class for tight ends isn’t very deep, either, so he could be a good fit for a team still looking for help at the position.
Parham went undrafted out of Stetson College in 2019. He spent time with the Lions and Washington, but didn’t play in the regular season.
De’Veon Smith, RB: Smith led the XFL in rushing yards with 365 yards on the season. The former Michigan running back had had brief stints with the Dolphins and Washington in 2017 and 2018, and played for the AAF’s Orlando Apollos last year.
Will Hill, S: The BattleHawks safety finished third in the league in solo tackles with 27 total and had two interceptions.
Steven Johnson, LB: Johnson led the league in combined tackles, with 48 total. He has been with various NFL teams since coming out of Kansas undrafted in 2012. Most recently, he was with the Ravens in 2017.
He is 31 years old, though, so a team would have to be looking for an LB with experience for him to find a fit.
Cedric Reed, Edge: The LA Wildcats defender had three sacks on the season, five quarterback hits, and a forced fumble.
Reed was undrafted out of Texas in 2015 and had short stints with the Bills and Dolphins, but he never made a roster with either team.
Cavon Walker, Edge: The New York Guardians defensive end led the league with 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits in five games.
Walker went undrafted out of Maryland in 2018, but he spent time in the preseason with the Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs. Walker would make for a great camp player with the potential to be more than that with an NFL team.
Austin MacGinnis, K: The Renegades kicker made a league-leading 10 field goals this season, not missing a single one.
John Santiago, returner: The Vipers’ return man led the league in return yards with 440 through five games.
Players who have already been signed
- Khari Lee, TE, Atlanta Falcons: The former DC Defender had eight receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns, this season. He signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, who is looking to replace Austin Hooper this offseason. Lee had stints in Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo, where he was in 2018.
Dravon Askew-Henry, S, New York Giants: Henry signed a two-year deal with the Giants. Henry had 11 tackles with the New York Guardians last season. Fun fact: He’s actually Darrelle Revis’ cousin! He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of West Virginia in 2019, but didn’t make the final roster.
- DeMarquis Gates, LB, Minnesota Vikings: Gates compiled 32 tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries with the Roughnecks. He should be a solid depth pickup with some upside for Minnesota.
- Deatrick Nichols, CB, New Orleans Saints: The Houston Roughnecks corner led the XFL with three interceptions on the season. On March 23, he signed with the Saints. Nichols added 24 combined tackles during the season, too:
This isn’t Nichols’ first shot in the NFL. After signing with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of South Florida in 2018, he was signed and re-signed various times throughout the year. He was finally waived last August.
- Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: The St. Louis BattleHawks signal caller threw for 1,050 yards and five touchdowns in five games. He also finished in the top 10 in rushing with 217 yards. His best game came in Week 4 against the Seattle Dragons, finishing 20 of 27 with 327 yards and a touchdown:
The former Ole Miss product helped the BattleHawks finish second in total offense, averaging 349.6 per game. Ta’amu spent a little time with the Texans and Raiders during the 2019 offseason, but didn’t make their rosters.
- P.J. Walker, QB, Carolina Panthers: It looks like Carolina has found at least one of its backups for Teddy Bridgewater. Walker, who signed on March 23, led the XFL with 1,338 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. The former Colts backup showed he can make plays on the run when under pressure, too:
We’ll update this post if more players land on teams between now and the end of the NFL offseason.