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Inside A Potential USFL & NFL Partnership For Player Development


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Makes too much sense...

Inside A Potential USFL & NFL Partnership For Player Development

James Larsen July 10, 2023

With the USFL having completed two seasons, the league has set themselves up for future success – potentially with the NFL. During Championship weekend at media day, USFL President of Football Operations Daryl Johnston spoke about the possibility of working with the NFL in the future.

While there is no guarantee that this type of development could take place before season three, Daryl states “I hope to have an announcement on this pretty soon” – which would indicate that there have been talks surrounding this topic already.

Whether or not a partnership is secured before season three, Daryl Johnston laid out the intended game plan for what it would look like.

USFL & NFL Partnership

The USFL is a stand alone professional football league, and that will likely never change. That being said, the USFL clearly exists to provide players with a platform to jump to – or return to – the NFL. The spring football scene is much different nowadays. These leagues are looking to work with the NFL, not against.

As of right now, the NFL doesn’t have an official farm system, similar to what the NBA (G-League) or the MLB (minor league baseball) has in place. The USFL could fill that role seamlessly, with the type of partnership that Daryl Johnston and league management has in mind.

Right now, a dilemma faces NFL teams looking to develop players who might not see minutes during the regular season. They can’t let them go, simply because another organization could scoop them up.

Johnston’s plan would allow for NFL athletes to play in the USFL (possibly even for a number of years), with the ability to return to the team that originally sent them. Essentially, the NFL team would retain the rights to that player, with the option to re-sign them at any point before other NFL GM’s could snatch them away.

He gives an illustration dating back to the days of the AAF:

“We go back all the way to 2018, when I was in the Alliance of American Football. Jeff Stoutland is the offensive line coach for the Eagles. I asked him, ‘wouldn’t it be great for Jordan Mailata to actually come to our league and play in a game?’. He said ‘absolutely. But, as soon as I let him go do that, I have to go into a bidding war with the 31 other teams to get him to come back, because everyone is going to see how talented he is…I don’t want to get in a competition for services by letting him go to the AAF’. There’s some conversations we’d like to start having with the NFL for allowing some free flow. It would give us access, but return that player to that team. These are things that are in infancy right now, but would be better for both leagues.”

Johnston then went on to say:

“It makes sense for there to be conversations about key positions, or all positions, to come down into the spring league (USFL) – but then go directly back to the NFL team that has your rights. Don’t open up a bidding war with everyone else when they see how good this guy can be. If he was yours coming down, he’s yours going back.”

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen spring football leagues attempt this in the past. Of course, the AAF was banking on an NFL partnership, which ultimately led to Tom Dundon shutting things down.

This time around, the USFL is in a much different position. They’ve proven that they are sustainable for long-term growth, while providing plenty of NFL organizations with quality athletes that they’ve developed over the past two seasons. A partnership, such as the one that Daryl Johnston is proposing, would absolutely benefit both leagues involved.

As the offseason grind continues, this is certainly a story to keep a close eye on. An NFL to USFL pipeline would only strengthen the quality of play in the league.

https://usflnewsroom.com/column/inside-a-potential-usfl-nfl-partnership-for-player-development/

Yes, that is ex-cowboy Daryl Johnston.

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37 minutes ago, C Mart said:

 

 

As of right now, the NFL doesn’t have an official farm system, similar to what the NBA (G-League) or the MLB (minor league baseball) has in place. The USFL could fill that role seamlessly, with the type of partnership that Daryl Johnston and league management has in mind.

As it stands right now isnt college football the defacto minor leagues for the NFL?

 

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4 minutes ago, Beerfish said:

Screw the fly by night usfl and xfl and such, go with the cfl.  The league has been around for years and years, more stable, already has been a good filter for players.  (Of course I am totally biased.  :)  )

Isn't the main problem with that the scheduling?  Would you be willing to have the Grey Cup in June to facilitate this? 

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7 hours ago, Kleckineau said:

As it stands right now isnt college football the defacto minor leagues for the NFL?

 

Yeah but you can't send any players back down to the "college" minors.  This would enable more back and forth for fringe players. 

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7 hours ago, Kleckineau said:

As it stands right now isnt college football the defacto minor leagues for the NFL?

 

College football isn't a defacto minor league to the NFL, any more than college baseball/basketball/hockey is to their respective sports. 

The NFL NEEDS this.  

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7 hours ago, #27TheDominator said:

Isn't the main problem with that the scheduling?  Would you be willing to have the Grey Cup in June to facilitate this? 

The biggest problem is the differences in the game/rules itself.   Scheduling shouldn't be an issue, given most sports have their minor league systems operating in an overlapped fashion to the professional league.  

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14 minutes ago, Bobby816 said:

They should make the USFL a 32 team league and have each NFL team have a developmental team playing in the USFL.

I always thought this approach made sense. 

I don't watch the usfl but if the Jets had a so called minor league team, i would and even consider attending a few games.

Just seems to be a win for everyone.

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35 minutes ago, Bobby816 said:

They should make the USFL a 32 team league and have each NFL team have a developmental team playing in the USFL.

In the spring ?   Then a promising player could play in something like 28 games?

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7 minutes ago, Larz said:
In the spring ?   Then a promising player could play in something like 28 games?

I wonder if they could work a deal where signing a player from the USFL mandates a redshirt recovery year ??

Sent from my Pixel 7 using Tapatalk
 

Edited by Dunnie
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1 minute ago, Bobby816 said:

No... same time as the NFL season. Just like a Minor League teams, G League team or AHL team.

They won’t compete with the NFL for viewers.  All sports leagues revenue is based on broadcast rights 

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3 hours ago, Kleckineau said:

Isnt that what the practice squads do?

they don't actually play in real games.  They would have more opportunity to grow and develop in the USFL than they do on the NFL "practice squad".  

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14 minutes ago, sourceworx said:

There were some standout players from last year's USFL season who went to NFL teams and stuck for the season.  So yeah I guess.

Then no reason to change anything. If I’m an NFL GM I’m not acquiring an asset and then sending the guy to the USFL.  If a guy there show’s potential, let him be a free agent. 

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8 minutes ago, Larz said:

Then no reason to change anything. If I’m an NFL GM I’m not acquiring an asset and then sending the guy to the USFL.  If a guy there show’s potential, let him be a free agent. 

Backwards way of thinking, IMO. With all the reduced pre season practice time per CBA and also 25% fewer pre season games, there is a severe shortage of development time. It's absolutely time for a big change in that regard. The significantly reduced practice has damaged the NFL product, IMO. Change is necessary.

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6 minutes ago, Dcat said:

Backwards way of thinking, IMO. With all the reduced pre season practice time per CBA and also 25% fewer pre season games, there is a severe shortage of development time. It's absolutely time for a big change in that regard. The significantly reduced practice has damaged the NFL product, IMO. Change is necessary.

The NFL players want less off season work. They bargained for lighter OTA’s last time.  You’re simply not going to get a guy that is in the union to agree to an entire extra season.  How do you acquire the rights to a player without him being in the union? 
 

too many risks and issues.  How do you monitor the coaching and instruction? 
 

there is just no need to change anything if guys have come up to the NFL. Let them be free agents. 
 

Let’s say the Jets send Kuntz to the USFL and Kuntz gets hurt playing in a meaningless game instead of on the PS getting coached up by Middleton. We’d all be cool with it, extra practice time with substandard coaches ! 
 

The PS is more than enough. Heck when there is an in-season injury teams usually bring in a street free agent instead of promoting a PS player. 

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18 minutes ago, Larz said:

The NFL players want less off season work. They bargained for lighter OTA’s last time.  You’re simply not going to get a guy that is in the union to agree to an entire extra season.  How do you acquire the rights to a player without him being in the union? 
 

too many risks and issues.  How do you monitor the coaching and instruction? 
 

there is just no need to change anything if guys have come up to the NFL. Let them be free agents. 
 

Let’s say the Jets send Kuntz to the USFL and Kuntz gets hurt playing in a meaningless game instead of on the PS getting coached up by Middleton. We’d all be cool with it, extra practice time with substandard coaches ! 
 

The PS is more than enough. Heck when there is an in-season injury teams usually bring in a street free agent instead of promoting a PS player. 

Teams dont always happen to have a PS player at the specific position needed. 

My main concern is that development opportunity has declined severely with each and every new CBA agreement. Just looking for ways to promote more development cause right now it's awful.

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1 minute ago, Dcat said:

Teams dont always happen to have a PS player at the specific position needed. 

My main concern is that development opportunity has declined severely with each and every new CBA agreement. Just looking for ways to promote more development cause right now it's awful.

What’s so frustrating with football is the injury risk. How do you sharpen the steel without breaking it?   

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Quote

As of right now, the NFL doesn’t have an official farm system...

This I would want I want to see.  A true, legit NFL Farm System, one farm team per one NFL team.

The focus would be developing talent separate from, and more broadly than, the college system, without the motivations colleges have today.

I think this would be ideal for a whole host of fringe NFL players to get real in-game playing experience and opportunities, the kind they are unlikely to get playing 4th string on the bubble of the NFL roster.

It could also allow some experimentation, with offensive systems, pending NFL rules changes, even how the games are covered/broadcast.

Put the teams in smaller markets somewhat near their home team market (a Jets farm team, say, the Long Island Bandits, or Long Island Bombers, with names based on the parent team's name) playing in like, Nassau County say, would be perfection.

It's a great idea.  But it'll likely never happen. 

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I agree NFL teams are not as successful at developing young players as they could be and some players would benefit from years on the bench that teams can't afford. It is interesting to think about renting players to other leagues to get more experience in the offseason and bringing them back to their NFL teams. 

I don't think a farm system really works for the NFL for a lot of reasons. Primarily, there are too many good players coming out of college every year for a relatively small number of roster spots. The players who would get sent down to the minors are less likely to come back up. The NFL did this with NFL Europe and it never did much to elevate players. It would also be extremely difficult to make such a league financially viable, as we see with spring football every time a new league starts. Few people want to watch bad football and you can't play 100 games a season to make a little money many times to make teams profitable. 

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