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Path To The NFL Opens For XFL Players When 2023 Regular Season Ends This Weekend

The 2023 XFL regular season will conclude this Sunday, April 23. And with that comes a doorway for XFL players to try out and potentially sign on with NFL teams.

Three years ago, the XFL season was cut short after five weeks by COVID. Not only were players denied of finishing an entire season and putting out additional game tape. But the pandemic created unique restrictions on workouts, NFL offseason roster size, and the elimination of preseason games. The latter, especially, is something that typically helps players make rosters.

Nevertheless, over 70 players in the XFL in 2020 landed on NFL rosters. Nearly 20 of those XFL players made NFL regular season rosters three years later. Many of them, like P.J. Walker, Taylor Heinicke, Donald Parham, Michael Dunn, Elijah Campbell, and Nick Moore, are headed toward their fourth straight season of playing in the NFL—some with new teams, like P.J. Walker with the Chicago Bears.

<strong><em>April 16 2023 The Seattle Sea Dragons Josh Gordon against the St Louis Battlehawks at The Dome at Americas Center on April 16th 2023 in St Louis MO © Dilip VishwanatXFL<em><strong>

The 2023 XFL player will get their shot at making an NFL roster when the XFL season ends.

The league has several standouts on all eight rosters who have emerged thanks to the opportunities they have received this season.

Baylor RB Abram Smith, the fifth-leading rusher in the nation in 2021, has been one of the players in the XFL who has shined greatly. The D.C. Defenders running back leads the XFL with 747 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in nine games.

Many will focus on players with name recognition in the XFL, like Josh Gordon, Ben DiNucci, A.J. McCarron, Phillip Lindsay, D.J. Swearinger, or others potentially gaining re-entry into the NFL.

But the lesser-known standout players, like Seattle Sea Dragons WR Jahcour Pearson (628 receiving yards) and D.C. Defenders wideouts Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson, among many others, have greatly benefitted from the existence of the XFL.

In a twist of irony, Western Kentucky WR Lucky Jackson, a current XFL player, was also hurt by the same pandemic that halted the 2020 version of the league. The restrictions caused by COVID hindered many college players during the 2020 NFL draft process. It limited camps and workouts essential for college players to get their foot in the door.

The six-foot-one, 190-pound target, Jackson spent four seasons at Western Kentucky, becoming one of the best wideouts in school history. He recorded 94 receptions for 1,133 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season and was named MVP of the First Responder Bowl after a 17-catch performance.

He finished his collegiate career with 209 catches for 2,680 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Hilltoppers before going unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft. Jackson ran a 4.36 forty-yard dash at his pro day in March 2020.

However, despite his favorable measurables and collegiate production. Jackson was overlooked by the NFL entirely. He tried his hand in Canada with the CFL but could not break through in a league where your nationality plays a factor in getting playing time.

As luck would have it for Lucky Jackson, the XFL has come around. And the WKU star has been one of the breakout stars in the league. Jackson is 4th in the league with 489 yards receiving, averaging nearly 15 yards per catch with five touchdowns. His teammate Chris Blair has also been on a tear. The Alcorn State standout, who has spent time recently with the Green Bay Packers, is third in the XFL in receiving yards with 524. The deadly D.C. duo is turning heads and forcing people to take notice.

XFL To NFL Signing Process

The early stages of the tryout/signing process by NFL teams can begin next week for XFL players on non-playoff teams.

NFL clubs will be permitted to request tryouts of XFL players beginning the day following a players’ club’s last game of the season, including playoffs. 

The XFL Divisional Championship Games will be played on Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29. The XFL Championship Game will be played on Saturday, May 13.

NFL clubs may request permission to negotiate and sign an XFL player to an NFL Player Contract after his club’s last game; however, no signing may occur until Monday, May 15, two days after the conclusion of the XFL Championship Game. 

In addition, XFL players, who qualify, except those on clubs playing in the XFL Championship Game, are eligible to attend NFL post-Draft rookie minicamps on May 4-8 and May 11-15 on a tryout basis (if they qualify under NFL rules to attend such a minicamp.)

The XFL has three draft-eligible players who would qualify for NFL rookie camps in West Georgia QB Harrison Frost (Seattle), Eastern Kentucky DE Willie Taylor, who is tied for a team-leading four sacks with Arlington, and Central Oklahoma DB Marco Domio (San Antonio).

The XFL is headed toward an exciting final weekend of the regular season, where all four games will have playoff ramifications. And in a few weeks, the league will crown a 2023 champion.

But the XFL’s most significant victories may come in its offseason when its top players all get shots to make the NFL. It’s two-fold, a validation of the XFL’s quality in 2023 and a selling point for the league’s viability and value moving forward.

Week 10 Schedule

Orlando Guardians@St. Louis BattlehawksSaturday, April 22

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D.C. Defenders@San Antonio BrahmasSaturday, April 22
12:00 PM ET
ABC / ESPN+ / ESPN Deportes

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Houston Roughnecks@Arlington RenegadesSunday, April 23
7:00 PM ET

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Vegas Vipers@Seattle Sea DragonsSaturday, April 22
3:00 PM ET

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell



  1. 4th&long

    April 20, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    Are XFL players able to to go to the USFL on May 15th?

    • Mike Mitchell

      April 20, 2023 at 4:16 pm

      No it’s only for the NFL.

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