On Thursday, all eight XFL teams put the finishing touches on their rosters for the 2023 season. The 70-man training camp roster was reduced to just 51, meaning 19 players were unfortunately forced to say goodbye. The Houston Roughnecks had a lot of late trimming to do, since they chose not to break up the cuts in chunks as other teams did. However, the final roster ultimately turned out well, and should only excite fans more for the season opener next Saturday night. The complete 51-man roster can be found below:
One of the notable additions to this roster is former LSU defensive tackle Glen Logan, who was acquired via trade from the Renegades shortly before the cutdown deadline. In return, the Roughnecks sent running back Adrian Killins to Arlington. Killins was the Roughnecks’ first- round pick from the initial draft back in November (8th overall), meaning it was quite a surprise to see him move on. Although the Roughnecks will likely be throwing the ball more than any other team in the league, there were talks that Killins had been operating as a slot wide receiver through camp. His departure should prove that Houston has an incredible amount of versatility on their hands, given they can trade away a player of his caliber (and who also has some of the best speed in the league) so easily.
Logan will be reunited with his former college position coach on the Roughnecks, Bill Johnson, who is in the same role with the team. He is the third LSU player on Houston’s roster, and previously spent time with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2022. Logan had plenty of experience prior to his time in the NFL, appearing in 51 games for the Tigers and starting 37 of them over a six-season span. A handful of defensive linemen were injured during training camp, which likely led the Roughnecks to execute this last-minute trade. Logan should have no issues helping fill the interior spot.
Moving on to cuts, a total of 15 players have been outright removed from the Roughnecks roster, with another 5 being added to the reserve list. Those players on the reserve list will likely not play for the Roughnecks this season, but do not count against the 51-man limit. The players that did not make the final roster can be found below:
RB Trevor Allen
WR BJ Byrd
WR Tavonn Salter
WR Osirus Mitchell
OL Kary Kutsch
OL Shamarious Gilmore
DL Jaquan Artis
DL Elijah Qualls
DL Tommy Madaras
LB Diego Fagot
LB Caliph Brice
DB David Tolentino
DB Andrew Whitaker
DB Brandon Easterling
DB Michael Lawson
FB Sewo Olonilua
DL Josh Avery
DL Scean Mustin
LB Chauncey Manac
LB Warren Thomas
A majority of the cuts were predictable, atleast to those who analyzed the Roughnecks roster in detail. While the number of players from the original draft that were let go may have been a bit higher than expected, they likely had an uphill battle ahead of them given their previous experience or the overall depth of the position group. The rest came from the supplemental draft or free agency, and were mostly brought in to compete for spots towards the bottom of the roster anyway. Even in the XFL, there is still a high level of competition, and making it past training camp is never guaranteed.
If there is one of the cuts who is worth singling out, it would have to be wideout BJ Byrd. Byrd was a Morehead State product who had plenty of college tape and accompanying stats, but in an offense that revolves around getting to the ball first rather than being a favorite target, he may have fallen out of favor in camp. For a deeper dive on Byrd’s career and potential, check out the Roughnecks Analyst podcast hosted by Cullen Watkins (link below):
Other honorable mentions would be linebacker Diego Fagot (Navy) and offensive lineman Shamarious Gilmore (Georgia State), who originally seemed to have the odds in their favor. Of course, football is a fast-moving business, and it all comes down to who proves themselves in a short timeframe. With 20 transactions listed above, that brings the roster down to 50, so the Roughnecks added defensive lineman Jack Heflin (Iowa) to reach the official number. Heflin has two years of NFL experience, primarily with the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in 4 games during the 2021 season.
With the first game of the 2023 XFL season just seven days away, we are now in the driver’s seat of spring football once again. Months of working, planning, and adjusting have led up to this moment, and the 51-man roster is essentially the icing on the cake. It is a visual representation of who will lead the franchise to continued success, and hopefully, Houston will be crowned the city of champions a few months down the line because of it.
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