The North-leading 3-0 D.C. Defenders are not resting on their laurels after a thrilling victory at home against the St. Louis Battlehawks. The Defenders announced two separate player trades on Monday.
The first is unique, an XFL special, three-way deal with the Defenders, Arlington Renegades and Orlando Guardians. D.C. has traded OT T.J. Storment to Orlando, Arlington receives receiver JaVonta Payton from the Guardians, and the Renegades have dealt the Defenders TE Alex Ellis.
The second trade sees D.C. replace OT T.J. Storment by acquiring Offensive linemen Antonio Garcia from Vegas in exchange for DB Joshua Allen. The two division rivals, Defenders and Vipers, clash in their second meeting this season on Sunday night at Audi Field.
D.C. Defenders Reshuffle Offensive Line, Add Tight End
The trade of Texas Tech rookie OT T.J. Storment is a curious move by D.C. because the team has encountered some injuries to their offensive line. Particuarly to their opening day, starting left tackle Cody Conway, who is on the injured reserve list.
But the trade of a talented young player like Storment speaks to the Defenders’ impressive depth up front. Backups Kyle Murphy and Rod Taylor, who both have NFL game experience, were called into more active duty in Week 3.
D.C.’s offensive line has been a bright spot. Heading into Week 3, they have given up the fewest sacks in the league and have one of the XFL’s top rushing attacks.
The acquisition of offensive linemen Antonio Garcia is an intriguing one. The former 2017 third-round selection by the New England Patriots has had a lot of adversity in his pro career since starring at Troy University. Health and injury issues have prevented him from realizing the potential he showed in his collegiate career. The 6’7, 305lb tackle has been sitting on the Vipers’ bench this season. It’s possible that in D.C., he could earn a role quickly at right or even left tackle.
Liam Ryan, a player who spent time on the Seattle Seahawks practice squad in 2022, has experience at guard and tackle and has filled in admirably as Option C at Center since Mike Maietti and Ty Clary went down to injury. Georgia’s D’Marcus Hayes is another player that DC is high on upfront.
The reshuffling on the offensive line by D.C. was done likely to free up space to acquire TE Alex Ellis, who has been buried on the Renegades bench behind league standout Sal Canella.
The 6’4, 245lb Tennessee product, Alex Ellis, is a well-traveled pro. The 30-year-old has been with eight NFL teams since leaving college in 2016. He has been on and off NFL active and practice rosters his entire pro career. Ellis was last with the Arizona Cardinals in 2021/2022. The Maryland-born native has been chiefly utilized as a blocking specialist and on special teams. His blocking prowess is why he has lasted this long. Ellis has three career NFL receptions.
The Defenders are looking to spruce up their return game and continue to control the trenches in their ground game. The acquisition of Ellis suggests that D.C. sees those two areas as priorities. Ellis will be teaming up with another former Volunteer in TE, Ethan Wolf. The new teammates have had similar pro-playing journeys.
Despite the Defenders’ strong standing early in the XFL season. Director of Player Personnel Von Hutchins, head coach Reggie Barlow, and their staff may not be done making moves as the team pushes toward the midway point of the regular season.
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