Even though literally nobody was asking for it, WWE owner, Vince McMahon is bringing the XFL back to national television audiences and football fans at some point in 2020. McMahon and those tasked with building rosters are going to need to find real talent to pair with NFL rejects and individuals who, otherwise, would not play the sport professionally in the United States. Naturally, our eyes look to current NFL players who could potentially be convinced to join the resurrected competition for the right offers and large sums of money. We’ll see what types of deals such recognized names are offered down the road.
What has to be remembered is that not all of the current NFL players spotlighted in this piece have homes with clubs as of Thanksgiving 2018. A couple of signal-callers, for example, remain active athletes and could, technically, be signed by clubs if there was an interest from a general manager and from that quarterback. Both men would be great fits in the XFL for different reasons, and both would sell merchandise and attract attention to games that casual football fans and potential viewers may otherwise ignore. Signing even half of the players mentioned in this piece could help the new XFL be more than just a one-season-and-done experiment.
20 Tim Tebow
Odds are that former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is not going to make it in Major League Baseball as a member of the New York Mets or any other organization. Bring him back to his home sport, give him an XFL deal, and make Tebow one of the faces of the new league beginning in year one. Tebow, who has an NFL playoff win on his resume, may not be able to pick those types of defenses apart these days, but he would likely do well enough to earn victories against XFL secondaries and pass-rushes. Besides, who among us does not want to see some more Tebowing on a football field before he calls time on his athletic career?
19 Josh McCown
Granted, this is admittedly not the best name out there, but it would be an intriguing story regarding somebody who could probably still do well in the XFL, even though he’ll be 40-years-old next summer. Josh McCown, who is going to be handed at least one more start from the New York Jets during the 2018 NFL season, is a warrior willing to sacrifice his body regardless of the record of the team that is employing him on that Sunday afternoon. He’s well-liked and well-respected around football circles. He also still has an arm that is good enough to get the job done in what would essentially be minor league football.
18 Jameis Winston
All jokes and snark aside, the XFL could be an excellent landing spot for quarterback Jameis Winston if those rumors about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being done with him are accurate. Winston remains a flawed product as a QB, no question about it, but he will be only 25-years-old at the end of January 2019. There’s room for him to grow, mature, and silence criticisms, even if doing so meant taking a decent payday from the XFL. Were Winston to be given a noteworthy check by the XFL, he would be a favorite to win MVP his first season. He could even be the face of the league as long as he remains out of trouble off the field.
17 Earl Thomas
The biggest question regarding this one is if the XFL would allow safety Earl Thomas to give one-finger salutes to teammates and opposing fans like the one he showed the sideline of the Seattle Seahawks after he suffered a season-ending injury in late September of this year. Thomas wants to get paid and paid a ton of money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s that reality that makes him signing with the XFL a matter that would probably come down to guaranteed cash more than anything else. Thomas would not necessarily have to complete the jump for the first XFL season to make his way to that league before retiring.
16 Vontaze Burfict
Even some fans of the Cincinnati Bengals are over the antics routinely seen by linebacker Vontaze Burfict during games. Burfict has earned the reputation he has for being a dirty player, but that type of personality may make him perfect for the XFL that, apparently, wants to have an old-school feel to it. The 28-year-old would be one of the best defensive players in the XFL even before the ink on his contract dried, and he would be able to get away with far more than what is tolerated by the NFL. It would probably only be a matter of time before he got himself into a fist-fight on the field. Fans would expect nothing less.
15 Tyrod Taylor
Following his failed stint with the Cleveland Browns, during which he went down with a concussion on September 20 and opened the door for rookie Baker Mayfield to take and hold onto that job, Tyrod Taylor is probably done as a legitimate starting QB in the NFL. Taylor has suggested that he wants to be a starter moving forward, but the Browns did not trade him before this year’s deadline. He’ll be a free agent and available for other teams after the current season, and the XFL should come calling if the league is serious about spending cash on real players. Taylor is better than Tebow and the last QB mentioned in this piece. He deserves a spot in the XFL.
14 Clay Matthews
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews turns 33-years-old next spring, and the franchise has all-but told him and anybody listening that the team is not all that interested in bringing him back unless he is willing to offer the club a discount. Matthews shouldn’t want to do so regardless of how much money he has earned off NFL contracts, endorsements and other business endeavors over the years. He would be an ideal face for XFL commercials. He also happens to still be a pretty good player even if his best days and his prime are behind him. We can envision Matthews ending his career as an XFL star.
13 Matt Schaub
This isn’t a rib or a typo. We even looked it up to double-check that Matt Schaub is, in fact, still an NFL player, and we learned that he is serving as a backup for the Atlanta Falcons. Schaub turns 38-years-old next summer. He will never be a long-term starter in the NFL again. In the XFL, however, Schaub could receive one last opportunity to play QB in prime time for a good team, or at least for a franchise that would have to put a decent offensive line in front of him. Besides, Schaub can just as easily throw pick-six interceptions in the XFL and earn some cash doing so.
12 Brock Osweiler
It would probably benefit Brock Osweiler to sign with an XFL franchise located near Denver, if one even exists, since that is where he enjoyed success as an NFL player. Regardless of the location and the team, the QB, who turns 28-years-old in November, could use a change of scenery and also some easier competition. We give you the XFL, Mr. Osweiler. If nothing else, Osweiler would probably be the tallest signal-caller in the XFL, a fact commentators wouldn’t let us forget because that’s just the way the business works. Starting for an XFL team has to be better than working as a backup for the 2018 Miami Dolphins, right?
11 Mark Sanchez
We’re not going to insult your intelligence and try to convince you that Mark Sanchez would be some kind of revelation in the XFL when that league opens. The former Sanchez did once outplay Tom Brady in a playoff game (seriously, it happened), and there’s no way he would be the worst QB to play for the 2018 Buffalo Bills during the team’s lost regular season. Sanchez is a name and face recognized by fans, many of whom would be curious to see what, if anything, he has left in the tank even when playing against lackluster XFL opponents. Nothing can be worse than a butt-fumble during an NFL game.
10 Terrell Suggs
Who cares if Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs turns 37-years-old next October? He and the XFL were made for each other. Suggs could put “T-Sizzle” on the back of his uniform and let the world know that he is a proud graduate of “Ball So Hard” university. The promos Suggs would cut on opposing players before, after and, hopefully, during games would bring some needed awareness to the XFL. Maybe he could even be a coach one day if McMahon and company are serious about making this a full-time project. Let’s not forget that Suggs can still go in the NFL and that he would be a great get for a new league.
9 Sam Bradford
The traditions of fall are alive and well in 2018. Leaves are changing colors. You can buy pumpkin spice whatever you want at stores, restaurants and bars. Quarterback Sam Bradford has flopped after signing a contract with a new team. Time is a flat circle. Bradford’s injury history is well-known, and the 31-year-old is not getting any better in the future than he was with the Arizona Cardinals in September. He wouldn’t have to worry about playing against top-tier defenses in the XFL. Maybe he could even return to his Rookie of the Year form in the XFL; OK, that’s probably a stretch, but he’d earn one last contract.
8 Adam Vinatieri
Earlier this year, legendary and ageless placekicker Adam Vinatieri hinted that he is not yet close to retirement even though he will be 46-years-old at the end of 2018. We have an idea for how Vinatieri can continue kicking footballs for a living for another few years, if not more. Despite his age, Vinatieri remains worth an NFL roster spot, and he could make history by becoming the oldest individual to ever notch a point in the XFL were he to play for a team even for a season or so. Unless Brett Favre is walking through the figurative door (he isn’t, don’t ask), that’s yet another football record Vinatieri would hold potentially forever.
7 Ndamukong Suh
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh may win a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, but he didn’t sign for the club on the cheap. Suh, who turns 32-years-old next January, would likely be a mercenary for the XFL or the next NFL team of his choosing, if only because he and those in his camp realize he’s running out of chances to make big money as a football player. The XFL would have to be willing to outbid NFL clubs to obtain Suh’s rights. It could be worth it to legitimize the competition. The league could also sell Suh on the idea that he could be a little — cough — rougher in the XFL than in the NFL.
6 Ryan Fitzpatrick
Give us Fitzmagic in the XFL, and let it shine in the league for years to come! Ryan Fitzpatrick is not going to be the long-term answer at QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or any NFL team at this point of his career. He’ll be 36-years-old before this Christmas, after all. Fitzpatrick, who happened to go to Harvard, in case you somehow don’t know, could air it out against XFL defenses into his 40s. We would like him to borrow more clothes belonging to wide receivers for post-game press obligations if he is going to sign with the XFL. The league should put that clause into his contract.
5 Josh Gordon
If there is one thing NFL franchises, particularly the New England Patriots, have taught us, it’s that there is a big difference between trading a low-value draft pick to earn the rights to a talent such as Josh Gordon for one season and signing him for a ton of money. The hope is that Gordon is doing well away from the field and that he will continue to be available and not suspended moving forward. NFL teams may not be willing to risk millions of dollars of cap space on somebody with his past. The 27-year-old could be the best athlete in the XFL, and he could also make money in that league that could elude him if he tries to stay in the NFL through the 2020s.
4 Adam Jones
Denver Broncos defensive back Adam Jones isn’t getting any younger, as he’ll turn 36-years-old next fall. Back when he was known as “Pacman,” Jones showed that he was willing to get involved in pro wrestling, as he had a short and rather forgettable stay in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Remember when Jones cut a post-game promo on wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and repeatedly called Pryor “garbage?” He showed then that the sports-entertainment aspect of his personality has not disappeared in his older age. Bring that kind of fire and passion to the XFL, Pacman. The league needs it, and it could give you a chance to extend your career beyond the NFL.
3 Le’Veon Bell
If the XFL is serious about being more than just a punchline for those who are already prepared to bash the league, it should offer running back Le’Veon Bell enough money to make the jump from the NFL at the right time. It may not be all that possible in 2019 or 2020, but the values of older running backs diminish with each NFL season. That shouldn’t necessarily be the case in the XFL, at least not immediately, because of the difference in overall talent. Bell has shown this fall that he is willing to bet on himself even when others would have backed off in a similar holdout. He’ll take the XFL contract as long as the money makes doing so worth it.
2 Colin Kaepernick
Think and believe whatever you want about NFL front offices not signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It isn’t happening, and anybody who doesn’t see the writing on the wall about that subject is lying to himself at this stage of the process. It’s possible that Kaepernick doesn’t care all that much about playing pro football at any level. He’s available. He would be a ratings draw for multiple reasons. Highlights from every game he played would be featured on national television shows and discussed on radio programs. Is there really no such thing as bad press? The XFL should find out by getting Kaepernick for its first season.
1 Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel is available and able to play for an NFL team if one would have him. That’s not happening for many reasons in the fall of 2018, though, so he is currently scheduled to continue his CFL career in 2019. The XFL will come calling for the former Johnny Football as long as he proves that he is serious about his comeback for another year. Manziel will answer that call and become the most famous person in that league if he’s smart and if the league pays him. Manziel turns only 26 years old before the end of this year. He hasn’t even hit his physical prime. Whether or not his pro career has a prime will be determined, ideally in the XFL.