The buzz right now is the on-going talks between the XFL and CFL. Two separate football worlds have converged, and everyone wants to know what direction these talks will eventually lead.
While we all wait for the next significant steps, so many careers hang in the balance, especially for the players. There is a lot of uncertainty right now.
But one thing is for sure. The XFL in 2020, despite having the plug pulled prematurely on them because of the pandemic, worked for the players.
The evidence of the XFL working is illustrated by the number of their players who have continued their playing careers by signing onto other leagues.
Until the XFL officially returns to the field, whether it’s in 2022 or beyond, life has moved on for many of the league’s former players.
Many XFL players have already made their way over to Canada to play the CFL game. While others already paved their way immediately into the NFL after playing in the XFL in 2020.
As of press time, there are 37 former XFL players currently on NFL rosters.
Here is a full list of those players on NFL teams.
XFL Players In The NFL
WR- Tanner Gentry (New York Guardians) (Signed on with Buffalo at the tail-end of their season. Reunited with his former college QB at Wyoming, Josh Allen.)
RB- Jacques Patrick (Tampa Bay Vipers) (Spent the entire season on the Bengals practice squad after starring in the XFL.)
DT- Kahlil McKenzie (Los Angeles Wildcats) (Went back to his college position of DT after playing on the o-line for several teams, spent the majority of the NFL season, on and off the Bengals active roster.)
K- Matthew McCrane (New York Guardians) (spent the entire season on the Browns practice squad.)
FB- Johnny Stanton (Los Angeles Wildcats) (The majority of his season was on the practice squad but was called into duty on the active roster at mid-season due to covid/injuries.)
OL- Michael Dunn (Seattle Dragons) (Matching his stints in both the AAF and XFL. Dunn, when pressed into starting duty, was fantastic late in the season.)
Los Angeles Chargers
OT- Storm Norton- (Los Angeles Wildcats) (After finishing up as the XFL’s highest-graded offensive linemen, Norton did the same for LA, finishing the season as the Chargers highest-graded player upfront. Norton played and started at both LT and RT, protecting record-breaking rookie QB Justin Herbert.)
TE- Donald Parham Jr. (Dallas Renegades) (Was active for the entire season, surprisingly used in-line frequently as a blocker. Despite his enormous receiving prowess. Parham flashed in the red zone when called upon. With Hunter Henry gone, Parham’s role figures to expand.)
Kansas City Chiefs
QB- Jordan Ta’amu (St. Louis BattleHawks) (Started the year as a scout QB on the Chiefs practice squad, aided the team in prep for players like Lamar Jackson. Was released and then signed onto the Lions practice squad before making his way back to KC as a futures contract signing.)
WR- Antonio Callaway (Tampa Bay Vipers) (A controversial figure throughout his career, even in the XFL. See McMahon-Luck lawsuit. Callaway signed onto the Dolphins roster but was released late in the year.)
P- Austin Rehkow (Houston Roughnecks) (Rehkow latched onto the Colts ps late in the season.)
P- Hunter Niswander (DC Defenders) (The argument can be made that Niswander was one of the best punters in the NFC, after Dallas brought him on.)
CB- Saivion Smith (Houston Roughnecks) (Smith flashed when thrust into starting reps for Dallas late in the year and helped aid the Cowboys in a victory over the Bengals. An injury in that game, however, derailed his season.)
DT- Walter Palmore (Houston Roughnecks) (Palmore spent the season on the practice squad. He will look for a shot at playing time next season. Preseason games would help fringe players like Palmore immensely.)
TE- Tyree Jackson (DC Defenders) (The next Logan Thomas. At least, on paper, it appears that way. The 6’7 250 former star college QB is headed for a crash course learning a position that several NFL teams worked him out at before the Eagles signed Jackson at the end of the regular season.)
LB- Edmond Robinson (Houston Roughnecks) (Robinson played his way onto the active roster after being promoted from the practice squad several times before earning the promotion. )
OL- Willie Beavers (Dallas Renegades) (The verastile swing-linemen spent the majority of the season on the practice squad.)
San Francisco 49ers
QB- Josh Johnson (Los Angeles Wildcats) (An ascending superstar in the XFL. Johnson had a tough-luck year. He came ever so close to starting for the 49ers late in the year, but a visit to the COVID list stopped that. The grind continues for Johnson.)
RB- Austin Walter (Dallas Renegades) (The dynamic returner, Walter finished the year on San Francisco’s active roster. He played sparingly but in Kyle Shanahan’s plug and play RB system. Walter could see more playing time with veterans departing through free agency.)
WR- Austin Proehl (Seattle Dragons) (The son of former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl, scored XFL 2020’s first-ever touchdown. The 49ers took a flyer on him and signed him late in the season.)
DT- Gabe Wright (Houston Roughnecks) (The former 4th-round pick finished the season on the Jaguars practice squad. He will have a new staff to impress in the summer.)
New York Jets
TE- Connor Davis (St. Louis BattleHawks) (The 6’8 260 pound Connor Davis is a true diamond in the rough. The Jets were so impressed with his physical stature and workouts that they brought him onto their practice squad at mid-season. Not lacking for physical talent, Davis is only lacking for playing time; he would benefit greatly from the return of preseason games next summer.)
CB- Elijah Campbell (DC Defenders) (The highest-graded cornerback in the XFL by Pro Football Focus landed on the Jets practice squad before the team elevated him to their main roster late in the season. The speedster provided depth at both cornerback and safety for the green and white.)
K- Matthew Wright (Tampa Bay Vipers) (Saw some NFL action and held up well during the season with the Steelers before signing with the Lions at season’s end.)
DB- Godwin Igwebuike (Seattle Dragons) (Igwebuike spent the entire NFL season out of the league, but a late-season workout impressed the Lions enough for him to get a futures deal.)
QB- PJ Walker (Houston Roughnecks) (The uncrowned XFL MVP in 2020, PJ Walker continued his undefeated streak as a starter when he won his only start against the Detroit Lions.)
TE- Colin Thompson (Tampa Bay Vipers) (Thompson quietly had a very productive season as a role player for Carolina on special teams and on offense. Thompson was rewarded with a contract extension at season’s end.)
S- Kenny Robinson (St. Louis BattleHawks) (The first XFL player ever drafted by an NFL team. Robinson had a tough time as a rookie, cracking the Panthers’ starting lineup because of stellar play in front of him from the likes of Jeremy Chinn and others.)
Los Angeles Rams
K- Austin MacGinnis (Dallas Renegades) (Spent the latter portion of the NFL season on the Rams practice squad. The former Kentucky and SEC standout came close to finally seeing his first NFL action when Matt Gay was injured late in the year.)
LS- Nick Moore (Tampa Bay Vipers) (The NFL’s new weekly practice squad protection list was utilized on Moore all season. Former special teams guru and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh didn’t want to risk losing Moore. There was a method to Harbaugh’s madness because at seasons end; it was announced that veteran Baltimore long snapper Morgan Cox would not be resigned because the team was going with Moore as their new long term snapper.)
New Orleans Saints
WR- Jake Lampman (Tampa Bay Vipers) (Lampman was one of several XFL players who were elevated off of Team 9 just days before the season was shut down due to COVID. Lampan tried out for the Saints a few times before signing onto their practice squad late in the year.)
OL- Anthony Coyle (New York Guardians) (Saw some regular-season action as a backup after spending the entire year on the practice squad.)
OT- Jarron Jones (New York Guardians) (Jones ran into some off-field troubles while he spent the entire season on the Steelers practice squad. Surprisingly, Pittsburgh held on to him despite the issues.)
LS/LB- Christian Kuntz (Dallas Renegades) (The former Renegades long snapper seesawed back and forth on the practice squad and NFL workout circuit before working his way back to Pittsburgh.)
LB- Tegray Scales (Dallas Renegades) ( Scales was called into duty late in the year for a depleted Steelers linebacking corps.)
Washington Football Team
QB- Taylor Heinicke (St. Louis BattleHawks) (One of the NFL’s most improbable success stories. Strangely, COVID benefitted Heinicke, who was on the verge of retiring. Because of the need for “quarantine quarterbacks.” Henicke’s relationship with Washington OC Scott Turner got him back into the NFL; two injuries to Kyle Allen and Alex Smith coupled with Dwayne Haskins demise opened the door for Heinicke to play like a star in the playoffs and earn himself a two-year contract extension.)
WR- Jeff Badet (Dallas Renegades)
The 4.2 speedster spent time on and off Washington’s active roster all season but showed enough elite skill on specials and on offense to earn a more extensive look next season.
XFL Players In The CFL
The XFL and CFL are in talks to decide what their future together might look like. While the football world waits to see what type of collaboration both leagues end up having.
In the meantime, the CFL regular season is tentatively scheduled to begin on June 10 and end on October 30, with 18 games being played per team over 21 weeks.
Training camps are also tentatively scheduled to begin in early May of 2021, with the first pre-season games coming in the last week of the month.
Many of the XFL’s former players were hoping that there would be a 2021 season, but since that was shelved last fall. The migration up north has been in full force.
78 players who were a part of the XFL, in some form or fashion, have signed on with CFL teams.
It’s worth noting that the CFL has a ‘Game Rule Ratio’ in place for their team’s rosters. The rule limits how many American players are allowed.
On game days, Each CFL team may have a maximum of 46 players, including two players who shall be identified as quarterbacks and 44 other players, of whom not more than 20 can be American players.
So with that in mind, it could limit how many of these XFL players end up making CFL regular-season rosters. It’s a rule that the CFL has had in place for a long time now to protect its homegrown national players.
For XFL fans, this is a list of players to keep track of during the CFL season. I suspect that many XFL enthusiasts will be turning their attention to the Canadian game due to the recent talks.
BC Lions (7)
RB- De’Veon Smith- Tampa Bay Vipers
RB- James Butler- Houston Roughnecks
WR- Jazz Ferguson- Dallas Renegades
OL- Kent Perkins- St. Louis BattleHawks
DE- Obum Gwacham- Tampa Bay Vipers
CB- Ajene Harris- Houston Roughnecks
DB-Nydair Rouse- New York Guardians (drafted, released in training camp)
Calgary Stampeders (10)
RB- Brandon Wilds- Tampa Bay Vipers/Team 9
WR- Dan Williams- Tampa Bay Vipers
WR- Nick Holley- Houston Roughnecks
WR- Bernard Reedy- New York Guardians (drafted, released at final cuts)
OL- Jordan Morgan- DC Defenders (released at final cuts)
DE- Jarrell Owens- New York Guardians
DE- Tarvaris Barnes- DC Defenders
LB- Jameer Thurman- DC Defenders
S- Marcellis Branch- Tampa Bay Vipers
S- Trae Elston- Houston Roughnecks (Placed on injured reserve)
Edmonton Football Team (7)
Head Coach- Jaime Elizondo- Tampa Bay Vipers OC
QB- Taylor Cornelius- Tampa Bay Vipers
WR- Jalen Tolliver- Tampa Bay Vipers
WR- Armanti Edwards- Dallas Renegades
OL- Derek Dennis- New York Guardians
DE- James Folston- Dallas Renegades
DE- Andrew Ankrah- St. Louis BattleHawks
S- Robert Priester- Tampa Bay Vipers
Saskatchewan Roughriders (9)
WR- Sammie Coates- Houston Roughnecks
WR- Demarcus Ayers- New York Guardians (released at final cuts)
WR- Kermit Whitfield- Los Angeles Wildcats
OL- Cyrus Kouandjio- New York Guardians (released in camp)
DE- Markus Jones- St. Louis/Dallas/Team 9
DT- Trenton Thompson- Houston Roughnecks/Team 9
LB- Demarquis Gates- Houston Roughnecks
CB- Jeremy Clark- Seattle Dragons
S- AJ Hendy- New York Guardians
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11)
WR- Davon Grayson- St. Louis BattleHawks
WR- Alonzo Russell- St. Louis BattleHawks
WR- Mekale McKay- New York Guardians
WR- Blake Jackson- Houston Roughnecks
DL- Ricky Walker- Tampa Bay Vipers
CB- Ranthony Texada- New York Guardians
CB- Deatrick Nichols- Houston Roughnecks
CB- Marwin Evans- Dallas Renegades
CB- Terrence Alexander- New York Guardians
S- Demetrious Cox- New York Guardians
DB- Jeremiah Johnson- Houston Roughnecks
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7)
WR- Dontez Byrd- Seattle Dragons
WR- Steven Dunbar- Dallas Renegades
WR- Kahlil Lewis- Houston Roughnecks
LB/S/KR- Joe Powell- St. Louis BattleHawks
CB- Channing Stribling- Seattle Dragons
CB- Desmond Lawrence- DC Defenders
CB- Herb Waters- Tampa Bay Vipers
Montreal Alouettes (8)
QB- Phillip Nelson- Dallas Renegades
RB- Cameron Artis-Payne- Dallas Renegades
WR- Eli Rogers- DC Defenders
WR- Nelson Spruce- Los Angeles Wildcats
WR- Jordan Lasley- St. Louis BattleHawks (cut in camp)
WR- Teo Reddick- New York Guardians
LB- Tre Watson- Dallas Renegades
CB- Jermaine Ponder- Seattle Dragons
Toronto Argonauts (12)
RB- Matt Colburn- New York Guardians
WR- Daniel Braverman- St. Louis BattleHawks (Injured Reserve)
WR- Jawill Davis- Tampa Bay Vipers (waived at final cuts)
WR- Keyarris Garrett- Los Angeles Wildcats (released at final cuts)
OL- Dejon Allen- St. Louis BattleHawks/New York Guardians
DE- Shawn Oakman- Los Angeles Wildcats
DE- Kony Ealy- Houston Roughnecks
DE- Dewayne Hendrix- St. Louis Battlehawks
DT- Khyri Thornton- St. Louis BattleHawks
LB- Reshard Cliett- Dallas Renegades
DB- Tavarus McFadden- Tampa Bay Vipers
S- Treston DeCoud- Dallas Renegades
Ottawa REDBLACKS (7)
QB- Chase Litton- Tampa Bay Vipers/Seattle Dragons
OT- Juwann Bushell-Beatty- St. Louis BattleHawks/Houston Roughnecks
OL- Na’Ty Rodgers- Tampa Bay Vipers
WR- Jalen Saunders- Houston Roughnecks
LB– D’Juan Hines- New York Guardians
LB- Jawaun Johnson-New York Guardians
CB- Jonathan Alston- Seattle Dragons
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