The deadline for NFL teams to make roster cuts is looming on the horizon. On Saturday, September 5th, prior to 4 pm EST, teams must cut their rosters from 80 down to 53 players.
On Sept 6th at approximately 1 pm EST, the teams will be able to sign 10 practice squad players each. For a long while now there has been no maximum salary for players signed to NFL practice squads, but the new Collective Bargaining Agreement actually eliminates that stating
“The new CBA eliminates unlimited practice-squad salaries. All practice-squad players are paid a fixed weekly salary established under the CBA — except for Group 4 players, for whom the CBA establishes a minimum and maximum salary. In 2020, both are $12,000 for Group 4; all other practice-squad players will be paid $8,400 per week. In 2022, the Group 4 salaries must be between $15,400 and $19,900, while all others will be paid $11,500.”
These changes in this new CBA were agreed upon because of the pandemic impacting the total revenue of the league. Less or no fans at games takes a massive hit on total revenue and because of that salary caps in the NFL are not increasing for the first time possibly ever. The agreed cap will remain at $198 mil for the year.
So how does all this tie into the XFL? Well some players, rather than being on a practice squad waiting to hopefully get called up, would rather develop themselves further with more actual playing time. They want to keep building their resumes in hopes to slingshot themselves back up to that next level with newly acquired skills that will help them on their way to success. With potentially more than a practice squad salary at that.
It’s still early but plenty of XFL standouts have been given that chance they were seeking to get back into the NFL. One of the most well-known examples being PJ Walker.
Walker went to the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and was there until 2019 when he was cut. From there most of us know what happened with him absolutely terrorizing defenses in the XFL in 2020, leading to his eventual signing by The Carolina Panthers where he is currently backing up Teddy Bridgewater.
Another standout former NFL player was Cam Phillips, PJ Walker’s go-to guy in Houston. He was an undrafted free agent on the Bills and the day after he signed was sent to the practice squad. Shortly after went to the XFL and now is getting a shot of his own with the Panthers.
Although these two are some of the main players that stand out, there was a significant percentage of former NFL players playing in the XFL. Now, with these cuts coming up very soon, we could see some real talent slip through the cracks, especially with no preseason games.
With no preseason games, NFL teams won’t have a whole lot of film on players that are on the bottom half of rosters, and because of this may not feel as comfortable signing some of them. The most important part of all of the NFL preseason is that the non-star players get to keep building their resumes. With no preseason, there will likely be some solid players that slip through the cracks
We are at a point where the NFL is becoming so deep with talent that some teams have two starting calibers Quarterbacks (Saints, Cowboys, Raiders). I am not saying these players will be cut as they are still very capable of playing at the NFL level and are likely out of the XFL’s price range, but it is just a testament to how much the league has changed over the years and the talent level has risen.
Great QBs used to be so rare, and now a lot of teams have had no problems carrying on with their backup quarterbacks without having to change much. (Ex. Eagles with Foles winning the Superbowl while Carson Wentz was injured, or Teddy Bridgewater when Drew Brees went down.)
I don’t want to name any names of players to watch, because I know that for the majority of these guys the end goal is the NFL. I do not want anyone to feel that they are being cheered for to fail at the level which they are trying to succeed. I will however say to keep your eye on the bottom half of rosters, some really solid players may not quite make the cut for the NFL that are very capable of succeeding in the XFL.
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