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Current NFL players who used spring league success in XFL, AAF to earn second chances

The USFL will wrap up its inaugural revival common season this weekend with the playoffs set for subsequent week. While the Michigan Panthers, Pittsburgh Maulers, Houston Gamblers, and Tampa Bay Bandits will end their respective campaigns over the following few days, soccer (most notably, the NFL) would possibly nonetheless be in the speedy plans of a few of their players.

Pro Football Network Insider Aaron Wilson first reported on Thursday that USFL players who usually are not on postseason rosters can instantly signal with NFL groups subsequent week. While some players shall be considered as “camp bodies,” greater than a dozen present NFL players have set a precedent for authentic second chances from spring league success.

Current NFL players who used spring league success to earn second chances

While the Alliance of American Football (AAF) and XFL revival failed to stick landings throughout their short-lived operations, a couple of of their standouts have been in a position to latch onto NFL rosters. The spring leagues gave perennial practice-squad players the prospect to create further recreation tape past the ultimate preseason recreation. Those alternatives led to second chances in the NFL.

Okay Younghoe Koo

Younghoe Koo is the largest success story in latest spring league historical past. Koo, a Seoul, South Korea native, made all 14 of his field-goal makes an attempt with the Atlanta Legend in the course of the 2019 AAF season. He turned that success right into a practice-squad stint with the New England Patriots, which lasted simply two weeks.

After leaving New England, Koo shortly returned to Atlanta with the Falcons in the center of the 2019 season, and he has spent the previous 2½ seasons as their beginning kicker. He made the Pro Bowl in 2020 and signed a five-year, $24.25 million contract extension in March. During his time with the Falcons, Koo’s transformed on 90 of the 100 area targets that he has tried.

Okay Nick Folk

Even longtime NFL vets can get a second likelihood off a spring league stint. After constructing a stable 11-year profession in the NFL, Nick Folk spent 2018 out of the league. So, he determined to strive his hand with the AAF in 2019, and his work with the Hotshots paid off. Shortly after the spring league disbanded, the Patriots got here calling and Folk was in a position to latch on.

Folk has spent the previous three seasons because the Patriots’ kicker. He has transformed on 76 of his 84 field-goal makes an attempt (90.4%) with the franchise.

QB Garrett Gilbert

While Garrett Gilbert was lately launched by the Las Vegas Raiders, his success with the Orlando Apollos of the AAF clearly extended his profession. Perhaps the most well-liked participant in the course of the AAF’s one-year run, Gilbert parlayed his success in the spring league right into a backup job with the Cleveland Browns.

Even although Gilbert solely lasted just a little over a season in Cleveland, his title recognition from his AAF stint helped him latch on with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Commanders over the previous two years. Gilbert began a recreation in every of the previous two seasons, finishing 41 of 69 go makes an attempt for 437 yards, a landing, and an interception. He’s doubtless to get a camp invite from a group looking for QB depth this summer time.

QB John Wolford

After failing to make the New York Jets’ 53-man roster as a rookie, John Wolford joined the AAF and was drafted by the Arizona Hotshots. In eight video games (seven begins), Wolford accomplished 63.4% of his passes, whereas producing 1,616 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. When the AAF folded, Wolford joined the Los Angeles Rams and finally landed on their follow squad.

In 2020, Wolford turned the first backup QB on the Rams’ roster and even began a recreation. He held onto the function when the Rams traded for Matthew Stafford and earned a Super Bowl ring in February as Stafford’s clipboard-holder. In 4 video games of motion, Wolford has thrown for 236 yards and two interceptions on a 54.8 completion proportion.

QB Logan Woodside

A 2018 seventh-round decide of the Cincinnati Bengals, Logan Woodside failed to make the 53-man roster as a rookie. Following closing cuts, Woodside signed with the Tennessee Titans’ follow squad however solely lasted a couple of weeks. With no NFL contract in sight, Woodside joined the AAF and have become the beginning QB for the San Antonio Commanders.

In seven AAF begins, Woodside accomplished 58.3% of his passes for 1,353 yards, seven touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. That output was adequate to earn a return invite to Tennessee for coaching camp. Woodside managed to impress the employees and earn a spot on the follow squad by way of the 2019 season. He then turned the backup QB in 2020.

RB D’Ernest Johnson

Similar to Koo, D’Ernest Johnson is among the extra notable NFL players to come out of the AAF. After failing to signal with an NFL group as a rookie, Johnson headed to the AAF and joined the Apollos. In eight video games, he produced 372 dashing yards and 220 receiving yards. He was then invited to coaching camp with the Browns and made the 53-man roster.

In the three years since arriving in Cleveland, Johnson has performed in all 49 video games and produced 721 dashing yards, 222 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Johnson’s averaged a formidable 5.3 yards per carry throughout his profession.

WR Greg Ward

The former University of Houston QB spent two summers and a season-long practice-squad stint (2017) with the Philadelphia Eagles whereas changing to wideout upon getting into the NFL. After a second failed summer time, Greg Ward went to the AAF to hone his expertise at his new place. That resolution paid off, as Ward caught 22 passes for 214 yards with the San Antonio Commanders, and was welcomed again to Philly for a 3rd summer time.

The third strive was the appeal for Ward, who made the Eagles’ follow squad once more however was finally elevated to the principle roster. Through three seasons on the energetic roster, Ward has caught 88 passes for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Eagles.

TE Colin Thompson

After bouncing round NFL follow squads for a few seasons, Colin Thompson signed up for the AAF and joined the Birmingham Iron. After a brief stint in the AAF, he tried his hand with the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers. Shortly after the XFL folded, Thompson was signed by the Carolina Panthers.

While Thompson was reunited with former Temple head coach Matt Rhule, he most likely wouldn’t have gotten one other shot in the NFL if he hung up his cleats. He has since performed in 26 video games for the Panthers over the previous two seasons.

DE Bunmi Rotimi

Bunmi Rotimi has bounced round in the NFL and in spring leagues. He performed for the AAF, XFL, and TSL earlier than touchdown with the Washington Commanders final season. Rotimi’s stints with the Hotshots and New York Guardians allowed him to maintain his profession afloat, and his work in the TSL stored the dream alive. He signed with Washington final summer time and made the follow squad. Rotimi finally bought known as up and performed in 9 video games, recording 9 tackles and a sack.

DE Austin Larkin

After failing to make the Cowboys’ roster as an undrafted rookie in 2018, Austin Larkin signed up for the AAF in 2019 and joined the San Antonio Commanders. He performed properly sufficient to earn an invitation to the Atlanta Falcons coaching camp, which led to a stint on the follow squad, and finally the energetic roster.

Larkin lasted only a yr in Atlanta, however finally, he signed on with the Carolina Panthers in 2020. He’s been with the Panthers ever since and has appeared in 11 video games since his return to the league.

DE Alex Barrett

Alex Barrett spent a few seasons bouncing on and off the Lions’ follow squad to begin his profession. After an inconsistent begin in the NFL, Barrett joined the Fleet in the AAF and performed properly, recording 15 tackles and two sacks in eight video games. That manufacturing set him up for a stint with the Raiders in 2019. However, Barrett suffered an damage throughout coaching camp and was shelved on IR.

After recovering from damage, Barrett — who was launched by the Raiders — signed with the San Francisco 49ers follow squad in 2019. He’s appeared in seven video games for the 49ers however has primarily been a practice-squad participant for the franchise.

DT Mike Purcell

Following a four-year stint with the 49ers, Mike Purcell’s early NFL profession took a bizarre flip. He bounced across the NFL on 5 completely different follow squads over the span of two years. So, with little latest recreation tape on his résumé, Purcell tried his luck with the AAF and joined the Salt Lake Stallions. After a stable stint in Salt Lake, he signed a contract with the Denver Broncos and by no means regarded again.

Purcell has spent the previous three seasons as a rotational nostril sort out for Denver. He’s appeared in 32 video games (23 begins) and produced 96 tackles (11 for loss) and a sack.

G Daniel Brunskill

After spending two years on the Falcons’ follow squad, Daniel Brunskill examined his would possibly in the AAF with the San Diego Fleet. The guess paid off, as he was one of many high offensive linemen in the spring league, shining throughout an eight-game stint.

Following that tenure, Brunskill signed with the 49ers, and he finally turned a starter for the perennial NFC contender. Through three seasons, Brunskill has performed in 47 video games and began in 40 of these matchups. He’s been a full-time starter over the previous two seasons.

LS Scott Daly

It’s fairly powerful to make it in the NFL as a protracted snapper. There are solely 32 jobs in the league, so generally specialists have to look elsewhere for work. Scott Daly did simply that, as he performed in each the AAF and XFL. Daly performed for the San Antonio Commanders and New York Guardians earlier than signing with the Detroit Lions final yr. He’s now the established lengthy snapper for Detroit.

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