As NFL teams position themselves for what’s shaping up to be another tumultuous offseason, they’ve started looking to XFL players to fill their rosters and bring stability ahead of free agency and the draft.
Futures contracts are a key part of roster building, and while some XFL stars like Donald Parham, PJ Walker, and Storm Norton are locked into the second year of their deals, futures are giving many more another chance.
We have the full listing available here on XFL News Hub, and while all of these players could breakthrough in 2021, there are a few that stand out.
QB Josh Johnson – San Francisco 49ers
It is little surprise that the veteran passer has extended his stay in San Francisco, and he was even in line to start at the end of the year before a COVID diagnosis derailed his shot.
Now, following rumors that the 49ers could move on from Jimmy Garoppolo after Kyle Shanahan was noncommittal to his future at the helm, Johnson brings a steady veteran presence to their quarterback room. Both Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard are free agents, and while the team will likely try to retain one, there is a chance that they’ll be looking at an entirely new QB room come September.
Josh Johnson could very well win the backup job, and 35 is the new 30 for quarterbacks this day and age. Regardless of who is starting next year in San Francisco, Johnson has clearly impressed this coaching staff, and will be a valuable part of this roster.
RB Jacques Patrick – Cincinnati Bengals
Half of the two-headed monster in the Tampa Bay Vipers’ rushing attack, Jacques Patrick is a punishing runner. At 6’3″, 234 pounds he is built like a Derick Henry-type and XFL fans came to know him for plays like this
Off to a running start 🏃@jacques_patrick | #DCvsTB pic.twitter.com/QpL3ve0xiu— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) March 2, 2020
With good burst and bruising power like this, he could well carve out a role for himself given the right opportunity. While Joe Mixon will in all likelihood return from his mysterious foot injury, incumbent power back Samaje Perine is an unrestricted free agent, and Giovani Bernard struggled to establish a consistent run game when Mixon went down.
Let’s not forget Patrick was the XFL’s 3rd leading rusher while splitting carries with its 1st overall rusher in De’Veon Smith. If he earns the job as the power/goal line back here as well, the former Vipers RB could have a real impact for the Bengals.
WR Jeff Badet – Washington Football Team
Will they be the Washington Football Team permanently? Will Taylor Heinicke take over the starting job? Will there be a three-way competition between Heinicke, Alex Smith and Kyle Allen? What becomes of Ryan Kerrigan?
There are a bevy of questions looming for Ron Rivera this offseason after an unlikely playoff berth, but one that may fly under the radar is who will start at wideout across from Terry McLauren. Cam Sims may have done enough in his breakout 13-catch, 103 yard performance, but this receiving corps is in need of answers after the team was 25th in passing yardage.
Jeff Badet could be a part of the solution. Coming off a solid season with the Dallas Renegades, he was a member of the practice squad most of the year, and was bumped up to the active roster at the end of the season before signing his futures deal.
In a league increasingly ruled by speed, Jeff Badet has it in spades. With a 4.27 40 time on his resume, he has had coordinators drooling over the possibility of getting him in space. The depth chart behind McLauren is far from a sure thing, and if both Heinicke and Badet take the field in 2021, XFL fans know who to root for.
TE/QB Tyree Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles
Tyree Jackson was a raw quarterback prospect with insane tools ahead of the 2019 draft, and after spending some time with the Buffalo Bills as a UDFA, found his way to the XFL.
He worked behind Cardale Jones with the DC Defenders, and was 11 of 16 for 46 yards and a TD, as well as 48 yards on the ground. He showed promise under center, and the NFL took notice.
The Eagles have signed him to a futures contract, but not at his natural position. It seems they want to use his 6’7″ 245 pound frame and 4.59 speed at tight end, and they’re hoping he can develop like Logan Thomas, another QB who’s broken out at TE.
He’ll have to learn a new position, and while Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are entrenched at the top of this depth chart Jackson will be in good company to learn. He also brings a new level of athleticism to this room, and after the Broncos QB-less game this season, it never hurts to have another guy on your roster who can line up under center.
CB Saivion Smith – Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have struggled for years to maintain a consistent secondary, and especially so in 2020 after the departure of Byron Jones. Saivion Smith was one of 11 Dallas cornerbacks to see the field this year, and the team must have seen something promising in his Week 14 start against the Bengals.
He helped hold Cincinnati to just 7 points in this defense’s best performance of the year, and while this secondary will be a new-look unit without all the 2020 injuries, he’s got a shot.
The 23 year old cornerback has now proven his ability to hang with the best of them at 4 different levels of football. Coming from JUCO ball, he became a starter for Alabama and proved himself against SEC talent. He was signed as a UDFA with the Jaguars before starting for the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL, and has now logged the first NFL start in Dallas.
He is an intriguing young DB with a wealth of experience, and could be a part of the Cowboys’ solution on defense under new DC Dan Quinn.
What Are NFL Futures Contracts
A futures contract is the same as a regular active-roster NFL contract. The deals are for minimum-salary with little or no signing bonus. These contracts don’t take effect until the start of the next NFL league year.
Teams can sign players to futures contracts as soon as their regular season is over. The contract won’t count against their salary cap or 53-man roster. Instead, it will count against the salary cap and 90-man camp limit of the following season.
Players who sign reserve/futures contracts can’t be signed by any other team.
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