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XFL To NFL Pipeline Continues As Arizona Cardinals Sign D.C. Defenders WR Brandon Smith

The Arizona Cardinals have signed D.C. Defenders WR Brandon Smith. The former Iowa standout is the 27th XFL 2023 player to sign on with an NFL team since May. Smith is the fourth D.C. Defender to sign an NFL contract since the XFL’s Championship game concluded on May 13th.

Arizona Cardinals Sign D.C. Defenders WR Brandon Smith

The 6’2, 220lb Smith was signed by the D.C. Defenders in late February after he finished the 2022 NFL season on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. The former Hawkeye worked his way into the Defenders rotation as the XFL season progressed, working behind league standouts Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson. The latter has signed on with the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite a modest stat line over seven games in a reserve role. (8 receptions on ten targets for 118 yards and a touchdown). In the XFL, Smith displayed the elite explosiveness he showed in college and during last summer’s NFL preseason, where he earned a spot on the Cowboys practice squad.

Smith’s immediate signing after working out for the Arizona Cardinals is unsurprising. He is a very impressive-looking athlete. The Cards snapped him up before the Denver Broncos could work him out at their veteran minicamp.

Arizona is retooling its roster after letting go of WR DeAndre Hopkins, among other notable vets who have departed the desert. Brandon Smith, who has been a star in the summer, will have another shot to make a positive impression in an NFL training camp.

Brandon Smith, like DC Defenders teammate LB/S Ferrod Gardner, who recently signed with the Washington Commanders, is one of over a dozen XFL 2023 players who finished the 2022 season on an NFL practice squad and then played in the XFL. Both NFL players turned Defenders are now back to being NFL players again.

XFL To NFL Tracker/Offseason Update

The XFL offseason is about to hit its full stride. The league will be conducting a rookie draft next Friday, June 16th. The XFL will follow that up with six summer showcases leading into a league combine from July 25-27 in Arlington, Texas.

Overall, the XFL will have multiple player drafts during their offseason. Their aforementioned rookie draft, followed by two in the fall, comprised mainly of NFL regular season cuts.

The current list of XFL to NFL signings has reached 27. But that number could grow in the coming weeks when training camp arrives in late July. Most NFL teams are at or near their 90-player maximum roster limit. But the situation is fluid. More openings could become available as time progresses toward training camp.

In the meantime, XFL 2023 players continue to get opportunities to try out for NFL teams in their respective June minicamps. However, there’s a feeling that players on the Defenders and Renegades, the XFL’s two championship game participants, were left behind in the process because of the league’s bye before its big game.

During a recent conference call conducted by Neil Stratton of Inside The League. XFL Football executives Doug Whaley and Russ Giglio discussed possibly eliminating the bye week before the XFL’s Championship game. The rationale for doing so wasn’t spelled out precisely to avoid a delay in XFL players latching onto NFL teams. But the change would benefit players participating in a championship game next season.

Interestingly enough, 15 XFL 2020 players are also currently on NFL rosters. Three years later, the talent pool from XFL 2.0 has stood the test of time. With many from the 2020 class attempting to make an NFL roster for the fourth consecutive season. The 2023 crop hopes to have the same kind of longevity. But no matter what happens, players are getting opportunities to make that a reality thanks to playing in XFL 2023.

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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

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