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D.C. Defenders LB/S Ferrod Gardner Returns To The Washington Commanders

D.C. Defenders linebacker/safety Ferrod Gardner is the latest XFL 2023 player to sign on with an NFL team. The Ragin’ Cajun standout is returning to the Washington Commanders after finishing the 2022 NFL season with them on their practice squad before Gardner joined the Defenders to play in the 2023 XFL season.

D.C. Defenders LB/S Ferrod Gardner Returns To The NFL

As of press time, there have been 22 XFL 2023 players who have signed with NFL teams. Ferrod Gardner’s case is almost as if he was on a loaner.

Last spring, he signed with the Commanders as an undrafted free agent and spent all of training camp with them. Gardner made Washington’s practice squad and spent time on and off that unit until the end of the NFL season.

At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Gardner is a hybrid safety/linebacker. He was selected in the 10th round of the XFL supplemental draft in January. After his NFL stint ended, he joined D.C. in mid-January. The versatile Ragin Cajun defensive back was a productive multi-year starter in college, registering 247 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 45 games at Louisiana-Lafayette.

In the XFL, the rookie Gardner, a late arrival, mainly played as a reserve behind a talented group coached by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Despite a modest total of ten overall tackles, Gardner finished the year as the Defenders’ fifth-highest-graded player by Pro Football Focus.

Because of his versatility on defense and special teams, Gardner is a genuine developmental prospect who has a chance to stick in the NFL for a long time.

Gardner is the second D.C. Defender to sign on with an NFL team since their season ended in the XFL Championship game on May 13th. All-XFL punter Daniel Whelan has signed on with the Green Bay Packers.

With most NFL teams at their maximum of 90 on their offseason rosters. Opportunities and openings are scarce. There are approximately 20 available roster spots across the NFL’s 32 teams at the moment. However, the belief is that several Defender standouts will get looks and tryouts throughout NFL minicamps in June and training camp in July. Nearly a dozen D.C. players are expected to get workouts in the coming weeks.

There’s a belief that the XFL’s two-week layoff between the playoffs and its championship hindered D.C. and Arlington players, who could not participate in NFL tryout camps. Their fellow players on the XFL’s other six teams had a leg up on securing NFL chances.

Gardner is the second XFL 2023 player to sign on with the Commanders. All-league OT Jarryd Jones-Smith (St. Louis) has also signed with Washington.

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years; you can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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