While the new Alliance of American Football is drawing a reasonable amount of attention for an upstart football league operating in the shadow of the NFL, the XFL is making sure that it’s not being forgotten. The project of WWE owner Vince McMahon, the ‘Extreme Football League’ already had one abortive start in 2000 and is looking to come back 20 years later.
The AAF has to its advantage a wealth of NFL experience to draw from, including the likes of Bill Polian and Charlie Ebersol, the son of Dick Ebersol. A number of former players are also involved in the league in some capacity, including Pittsburgh Steelers alumni Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu.
One of the league’s biggest problems, however, as has been shown during the first four weeks of play, is the performance of the quarterback position, with the biggest and most productive names so far being the likes of Logan Woodside and Zach Mettenberger. The Birmingham Iron is starting Luis Perez, who has not thrown a touchdown yet in four games.
The XFL is trying to learn from its past mistakes, which resulted in the league folding after just one season. But perhaps it’s also planning to learn from the AAF as well. Reportedly, McMahon’s brainchild doesn’t plan on playing nice with the NFL, as the AAF is. they’re looking to poach talent.
According to Pro Football Talk, “the XFL’s plans for staffing include targeting quarterbacks released by NFL teams when the rosters reduce from 90 to 53, persuading them to sign with the XFL on the spot, forgoing the opportunity to sign with an NFL franchise as injuries happen and other openings arise during the 2019 season”.
Of course we’re not talking about them coming out and landing a Nick Foles. We’re pretty much talking about the Woodsides and the Mettenbergers. But the AAF is showing that you can get by with that level of quarterback play. if you can get all of your teams to have a competent signal-caller under center, it immensely and immediately improves the quality and watchability of the product.
More and more teams, it seems, are choosing to keep only two quarterbacks on their roster. if the XFL can actually offer these would-be third- and fourth-string quarterbacks a competitive deal—and obviously an opportunity to start—then their plan might work.
Speaking of the AAF, they have already shown that they have this problem. They have had quarterbacks such as Josh Johnson and Garrett Grayson in their systems, only to see them race back to the NFL at the very first opportunity. And you can’t blame them of course.
Right now it’s unclear what kind of salaries the XFL is able to offer, but the AAF negotiates standard three-year, $250,000 contracts for all of its players. There was a report that they pursued the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow, but there were no indications of what they were willing to pay beyond the standard player contract. The unabashed XFL likely wouldn’t have an issue with a pay-scale imbalance in order to improve the quality of quarterback play.