Like all of the major sports leagues around the world, the NFL has options for players that cannot make it and still want to play professionally in other leagues. The NFL had the USFL back in the mid 1980's in which Hall of Fame players like Steve Young, Jim Kelly, and Reggie White participated in. In the NBA, there is the D-League, G-League, and the opportunity to play overseas as well. In the MLB, there are many leagues like the Japanese baseball league as well as other leagues in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. For the NFL, the big league right now to go to if you cannot cut it is the CFL. There are a lot of NFL players that couldn't make it that are trying to revitalize their careers with the help of the CFL.
The CFL will be in its 60th season of existence. There is a lot of benefit that can go toward playing in the CFL. Look at a guy like Johnny Manziel, trying to revitalize his career in the NFL and is strongly considering playing in the CFL after the Spring Development league is complete. Manziel is not the only one to have taken this step, however. With these castoffs though, it seems like their time to go back to the NFL may be running out of time. Without further adieu, let's take a look at 15 NFL castoffs that are still playing in the CFL.
15 Vernon Adams Jr.
Vernon Adams Jr. didn't make it into an NFL game at any point of his career. He is a quarterback that ended up playing his college football at Oregon. Playing at a big time school in Oregon, he could have had some moderate success in the NFL.
Adams Jr. went undrafted in the NFL draft in 2016. He was invited to mini camp by the Seattle Seahawks, but he was not signed.
He also got a call for rookie mini-camp with the Washington Redskins as well. Neither panned out and he has since taken his talents to the CFL. He has played for the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders, but now is currently playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats going forward.
14 Darvin Adams
This next CFL wide receiver is a 28-year-old from Mississippi. Darvin Adams spent his college football days playing in the SEC for the Auburn Tigers. In 2011, he finally made it to the NFL. But that dream was short lived as he has been playing in the CFL for six seasons now.
He was an undrafted rookie free agent that was signed by the Carolina Panthers in 2011. He was on the practice squad and made it to the active roster, but didn't appear in a game. He played one season in the United Football League, and then ended up in the CFL. He has played for the Toronto Argonauts and now is a part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Look for him to catch passes for Winnipeg again during the next CFL season.
13 Duron Carter
You'll recognize Duron Carter's last name, because his father happens to be NFL hall of famer Cris Carter. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida before playing his college football at Florida Atlantic. He didn't get a chance in the NFL right away as he played his first professional season in the CFL. He then got a chance for one NFL season before ultimately going back to the comforts of the CFL.
Unfortunately, attitude problems have constantly plagued Carter, even though many NFL scouts have said he has the talent to be in the NFL.
In 2o15, Carter had several workouts for NFL teams. He finally got a chance when he signed on with the Indianapolis Colts. He then ended up being cut and ultimately being on the Colts practice squad before going back to the CFL. Carter may not have made it with the Colts, but he can still have a good career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
12 Da'Quan Bowers
Unlike many of the other entries you'll see on this list, Da'Quan Bowers was actually drafted early on in his draft year, going in the 2nd round to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2011. In fact, Bowers was initially projected to be an early first round pick in his draft year, but injuries and off-field issues affected his draft stock. When he made it to the NFL, Bowers disappointed, only managing seven sacks in five seasons with the Bucs. He last played in the NFL in 2015 and just played his first season with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos last year. He signed an extension with the team just over a month ago, after a successful season in which he recorded 7 sacks, and an interception in 14 games with Edmonton.
11 Stefan Logan
Stefan Logan was one of the few CFL players that got enough attention from NFL teams to earn himself a shot south of the border. After a stellar career with the BC Lions, the Pittsburgh Steelers opted to give Logan a shot and signed him in 2009. After making the 53-man roster in 2009, Logan set a Steelers franchise record in return yards, but was surprisingly cut out of training camp in 2010. Logan then spent a year with the Detroit Lions and was names a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010. He played in the NFL for two more years before he fizzled out and went back up north to the BC Lions in 2013. The 36-year-old now plays for the Montreal Alouettes.
10 T.J. Heath
This next CFL player spent a lot of time moving around, as T.J. Heath really couldn't find a permanent home in the NFL. He moved around to eight NFL teams in four years before settling into the CFL. Heath is now patrolling the defense in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts, the defending league champs.
Heath played for several teams like the Jaguars, Bengals, Bills, Browns, Dolphins, Panthers, Falcons, and Giants. He then played for the Argonauts, the Blue Bombers, and then ended up back with the Argonauts. He is also a two time CFL All-Star. He may not have panned out in the NFL, but the CFL does not seem to be treating him too badly either. Hopefully he'll continue to have success there.
9 Marcus Henry
This next receiver in the CFL also had a short time in the NFL, just like all of the other guys on this list. The big thing though is that he was indeed drafted in the NFL draft. He was taken in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the New York Jets. He lasted two years with the Jets on the practice squad before going on the Carolina Panthers for a year.
Henry was a Second Team All-Big 12 player in 2007. But since then, he hasn't made much impact at the professional level.
After his stints with the Jets and Panthers, he went to the CFL and has played for the Edmonton Eskimos, Ottawa RedBlacks, and the Montreal Alouettes. At least at 32, he still has a career in professional football moving forward until further notice.
8 Ty Long
Ty Long is a kicker that had a brief stint in the NFL as well, but didn't really make any noise. He went to the University of Alabama Birmingham and went to the NFL as an undrafted rookie in 2015. He is 6'2, and 220 pounds and holds the record for career field goals at UAB.
He signed on with the Washington Redskins in May of 2015 before he was released in August of 2015. He then caught on with the Pittsburgh Steelers in January of 2016 and then was released again in May of 2016. He now is playing for the BC Lions and is a CFL All-Star along with being named a CFL West All-Star. Long will certainly be making long kicks for the CFL for the foreseeable future.
7 William O. Powell II
The next CFL player is William O. Powell Jr. No, this is not the William Powell that is known as an American actor. This William Powell played his last two years of college football at Kansas State University. He then became a member of the Arizona Cardinals for a few years. Unfortunately, this is the closest Powell would come to having any sort of NFL career.
After his time in Arizona, he was picked up on waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles. After the Eagles, he signed a two year deal with the Texans, only to be released two weeks later. He has played for the Ottawa Redblacks since the 2015 season. He has won the Grey Cup along with being a CFL East All-Star in 2017 following his first 1,000 yard season north of the border.
6 Johnny Manziel?
Okay, so technically Johnny Manziel is not playing in the CFL right now, but it will very well be his next option, as he hasn't been that impressive in the Spring League and an NFL shot doesn't seem to be on the horizon. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats own his negotiating rights, but the two sides have yet to come to terms on an agreement, with some reports saying Manziel has asked for too much money.
When Manziel elected to go to the Spring League a couple of months ago, the Tiger-Cats wished him well in returning to football.
The two sides still seem to be open to working something out and the CFL season doesn't begin until July, leaving the two sides plenty of time to hammer out a deal this year.
5 Brandon Banks
Brandon Banks showed signs that he could be an effective weapon in the NFL as a returner, but his small size ultimately hurt his NFL chances. However, with the CFL having a longer and wider field, Banks' size is less of an issue and his speed is what really helps him in the Canadian game. Banks only managed to score one touchdown in his three year NFL career, coming off a kick return, with the Washington Redskins. Following his release from Washington, Banks signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and has been a force since the move. Banks has scored seven punt return touchdowns, one kickoff return TD and three off of missed field goals in his five-year CFL career. He's also a factor in the receiving game, adding 18 scores in the air. He's definitely found a good home in Canada.
4 Alfonzo Dennard
The New England Patriots are notorious for taking low round picks and undrafted/unsigned players and giving them a meaningful role in their system. This was the same situation for Alfonzo Dennard, who migrated to the CFL. He was a cornerback that played at Nebraska. He was selected in the seventh round with the 224th overall pick. He certainly isn't entertaining the "Patriot Way" anymore.
Dennard played three seasons with the Patriots before playing year on the Arizona Cardinals as mostly a practice squad player. He then ended up playing for the Baltimore Brigade in the Arena Football League and then the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL before being released. It is amazing to see how far down Dennard has gone from being in New England to out of the CFL.
3 Trent Richardson
This next CFL player was one of the only guys on this list to be drafted high in the first round. The University of Alabama produces loads of talent year after year that are usually ready for the NFL level. In the 2012 NFL draft, he was taken third overall by the Cleveland Browns.
Richardson went from top five NFL Draft pick to the CFL quicker than he expected.
Richardson was a two time national championship and also the SEC offensive player of the year in 2011. He went to the Colts and then was on the practice squad for the Raiders and Ravens before going into the CFL. He is now with Saskatchewan and only has two career rushing touchdowns at the CFL level. He is still only 27, but the CFL looks to be the last hope for his professional career.
2 Josh Freeman
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in search of a quarterback going into the 2009 NFL draft. They owned the 17th pick overall and looked to see what they could get. They ended up taking a quarterback from Kansas State that didn't end up lasting long before saying goodbye to a career in the NFL. His name is Josh Freeman and he is looking for a new start in the CFL.
Freeman threw for 81 career touchdowns and 68 career interceptions during his time in the NFL.
He played for the Bucs and the Vikings before being on the practice squad for the Giants and Dolphins. He played for the Brooklyn Bolts in the FXFL before going back to the NFL for the Colts as a backup. After being released by the Colts, he wasn't signed by anyone until the Calgary Stampeders signed him to a two year deal. Hopefully, Freeman succeeds with the CFL.
1 Austin Collie
This next CFL player also enjoyed playing under Bill Belichick for the New England Patriots. He is a wide receiver that came out of Brigham Young University. He was the type of wide receiver the Patriots liked: smart and with good hands. Collie managed to have an NFL career where he caught passes from both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. However, his football career came to a close north of the border.
Collie had 179 career receptions along with 16 career touchdowns. He spent his first four seasons with the Colts before being on the practice squad for the 49ers. He then ended up with the Patriots and ended up being a key receiver to help the Patriots reach the AFC championship game. He then played for the BC Lions before he announced retirement earlier this year.