Even with NFL cut down day fast approaching on Saturday, September 5th. NFL teams are still working out and signing XFL players.
As of press time, NFL teams have 30 former XFL players on their rosters. By Saturday, September 5th, all 32 NFL teams must pare down their active rosters to 53.
Training camp rosters during the COVID-19 pandemic are comprised of 80 players rather than the typical total of 90. Gone are the ten additional roster spots (320) and the preseason games, which in the past have served as an evaluation tool for the teams and have also served to better a prospective player’s chances of latching onto a roster.
On the positive side, NFL practice squads have expanded from 12 to 16. The expansion will be creating 128 new jobs. A helpful aid to many of the XFL players that are currently fighting for roster spots on NFL teams.
Thanks to the NFL recently lifting the prohibition on free-agent tryouts. Teams are no longer required to have an open roster spot to hold tryouts. Because of this, over two dozen former XFL players have received opportunities to work out for NFL teams in the last two weeks. Most notably players like Cardale Jones, Josh Johnson, and Cam Phillips. The prohibition lift has led to five recent signings during that period.
— Dany Garcia (@DanyGarciaCo) August 22, 2020
Here is the current list of former XFL players on NFL rosters by position;
QB- PJ Walker- Carolina Panthers ( Houston Roughnecks)
QB- Jordan Ta’amu- Kansas City Chiefs (St. Louis BattleHawks)
RB- Jacques Patrick- Cincinnati Bengals (Tampa Bay Vipers)
WR-Cam Phillips- Carolina Panthers (Houston Roughnecks)
WR- De’Mornay Pierson-El- Las Vegas Raiders (St. Louis BattleHawks)
WR- Saeed Blacknall- Pittsburgh Steelers (LA Wildcats)
TE- Donald Parham- Los Angles Chargers (Dallas Renegades)
TE- Khari Lee- Atlanta Falcons (DC Defenders)
TE- Colin Thompson- Carolina Panthers (Tampa Bay Vipers)
C- Jon Toth- Cleveland Browns (DC Defenders)
OT- Jarron Jones- Pittsburgh Steelers ( New York Guardians)
OT- Anthony Coyle- Pittsburgh Steelers (New York Guardians)
OT- Pace Murphy- Dallas Cowboys ( Dallas Renegades)
OT- Storm Norton- Los Angeles Chargers (Los Angeles Wildcats)
G- Michael Dunn- Cleveland Browns (Seattle Dragons)
G- Zac Kerin-Tennessee Titans (New York Guardians)
G- John Keenoy- Pittsburgh Steelers (Dallas Renegades)
G- Avery Gennesy- Tennessee Titans (Houston Roughnecks)
DT- Kahlil McKenzie- Cincinnati Bengals (Los Angeles Wildcats)
DL- Ricky Walker- Cleveland Browns (Tampa Bay Vipers)
DL- Cavon Walker- Pittsburgh Steelers (New York Guardians)
DE-Will Clarke- Detroit Lions (St. Louis BattleHawks)
LB- Edmond Robinson- Atlanta Falcons (Houston Roughnecks)
CB- Josh Hawkins- Atlanta Falcons (Dallas Renegades)
CB- Deatrick Nichols- Miami Dolphins (Houston Roughnecks)
CB- Saivion Smith- Dallas Cowboys (Houston Roughnecks)
S- Dravon Askew-Henry- New York Giants (New York Guardians)
S- Kenny Robinson- Carolina Panthers (St. Louis BattleHawks)
K- Austin MacGinnis- Los Angeles Rams (Renegades)
LS- Nick Moore- Baltimore Ravens (Vipers)
XFL PLAYER CHANCES
Many of the quality players listed above are on the fringe of making their rosters. Very few of the current XFL players on NFL rosters are expected to challenge for immediate starting positions. That’s not to say that some of the players haven’t made strong impressions during this unique summer.
Perceived longshot Dravon Askew-Henry has shined at Giants camp, showing the same position versatility he showed for the Guardians earlier this year. Credit goes to former All-Pro NFL DB Chris Dishman, Dravon’s position coach in New York, who got the most out of Askew-Henry’s ability. The cousin of future Hall-Of-Famer Darrelle Revis is having a spectacular summer.
The most high-profile duo in the XFL has reunited in Carolina. League MVP Quarterback P.J. Walker and late arrival Wide Receiver Cam Phillips are back in business together, but for how long. Playing into Phillips’s favor is a plethora of injuries to the back end of the Panthers receiving corps. In the XFL, when presented the opportunity to play, Phillips showcased what made him a record-breaking receiver at Virginia Tech.
PJ Walker is in a battle with Will Grier for the backup spot behind Teddy Bridgewater. Winning the backup job will put Walker one-step closer to getting on an NFL field. The fact that Walker has his former Temple Head Coach Matt Rhule on his side doesn’t hurt. For ardent XFL supporters who saw Walker’s ascent to superstardom in Houston. It’s not difficult to envision a scenario where Walker is starting games in the future and succeeding.
The Carolina Panthers have four XFL players on their current roster. (BattleHawks DT Devonte Lambert released 8/28) Kenny Robinson is the lone XFL player drafted into the NFL. Like any fifth-round pick, Robinson is learning from the veterans in front of him and looking to earn his stripes.
LONG TERM IMPACT
Leagues like the XFL in the past have long been questioned for their lack of talent. So while the number of XFL players that make NFL rosters will serve as a source of vindication for its supporters. The real long term effect of the XFL lies in the impact of the select few who do make it into the NFL.
For all of its shortcomings, and it had many. The original XFL produced several players who went on to have extended NFL careers. Long since forgotten, players like Kevin Swayne, Mike Furrey, Corey Ivy, and others went on to have productive NFL careers.
However, the two players who vindicated the XFL were league MVP Quarterback Tommy Maddox and the infamous Rod ‘He Hate Me’ Smart. The latter, Smart, would go on to play several seasons in the NFL after starring in XFL 1.0.
Tommy Maddox went from being a cast out former first-round pick to XFL MVP to comeback player of the year in the NFL. Leagues like the XFL, NFL Europe, and others have served as sources of revitalization and discovery for football players.
So if just one or two or maybe even a few of the current, former XFL players go on to have successful NFL careers or become stars. The league’s presence in 2020 will have delivered a lasting impact and provide a great example of what the XFL can deliver to football players and the entire sport in the future.