UFL Players Signing With The NFL

The UFL’s inaugural season was a terrific launch pad for players eager to hone their skills, showcase their abilities, and continue playing the game they love. The league also provides a direct gateway into the NFL for a fortunate few. The idea of the NFL cherry-picking select standout players from the spring football leagues isn’t new.

UFL Players Signing With The NFL

Historical Precedent  

When Dallas Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey played for the USFL Birmingham Stallions a year ago, his outstanding kicking contributed to the Stallions’ back-to-back Championship seasons. Aubrey caught the attention of the Cowboys, who were actively seeking a talented young kicker. After signing with Dallas for the 2023 season, he converted 36 of 38 field goals, including a 60-yard kick that helped him earn All-Pro Team honors.  

Flexibility and More Playing Options

Aubrey’s Birmingham Stallions teammate and former quarterback, Alex McGough, also signed an NFL contract. McGough led the USFL Championship Stallions to a second title in 2023 when Birmingham’s starting quarterback, J’Mar Smith, was injured. That season McGough passed for 2,104 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. His speed and ability to run the football added 403 more yards with five touchdowns.

Although he was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a backup quarterback to Jordan Love, Coach Matt LaFleur recently confirmed that McGough will instead be taking on the role of wide receiver this fall. Given his speed and athleticism, the move makes sense. As a receiver, McGough will get more playing time and have the opportunity to make an immediate impact.    

 St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback A.J. McCarron is another good example. McCarron just finished an impressive season, passing for almost 1,6oo yards with 15 touchdowns. Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, McCarron spent time with other NFL teams but didn’t make much of an impact until he joined the USFL St. Louis Battlehawks. McCarron’s success in St. Louis reignited interest from the Bengals. When franchise quarterback Joe Burrow was injured in the 2023 season, the Bengals re-signed McCarron as a backup to Jake Browning.  

UFL 2024 NFL Signings 

As of June 18, 2024, almost a dozen UFL players were signed to the NFL. In all likelihood, there will be more signings but it’s often hard to predict why a particular individual will be selected by an NFL team.  It’s not always the athlete with the highest statistics.  Instead, a player may be chosen based on intangibles such as his physicality or how he fits within the team dynamic.       

Field Goal Kickers Paradise

The first UFL athlete to be signed was the Stallions field goal kicker, Ramiz Ahmed. Brought in at the midpoint of the UFL season to replace injured starter, Chris Blewitt, Ahmed was released once Blewitt returned from IR. Immediately afterward, the Washington Commanders signed Ahmed several weeks before the regular season ended. Since the UFL has a talented roster of kickers, most of whom recorded kicks over 50 yards, the expectation is that other field goal kickers will soon be signed as well.

Speaking of distance kickers, the ultimate prize of the UFL shopping spree was Jake Bates, the Michigan Panthers kicker. Bates created an absolute firestorm of publicity by kicking a 64-yard game-winning field goal in the closing seconds of the Panthers’ first game. Although several NFL teams sought to sign Bates, he ultimately decided on the Detroit Lions, who rewarded him with a two-year contract totaling almost two million dollars with $150,000 guaranteed and a $100,000 signing bonus.  

Battlehawks Bevy

The St. Louis Battlehawks released several players to sign with NFL teams, including their outstanding All-UFL Team running back, Jacob Saylors. An undrafted free agent from East Tennessee State University, Saylors had previous tryouts with the Bengals and the Falcons but never played in the NFL. Saylors made his presence felt as a dual-scoring threat in the UFL and finished the season with 461 rushing yards on 94 carries and five touchdowns, plus another 23 receptions for 151 yards with three touchdowns. After signing a contract with the New York Giants, Saylors is bringing his talents to the NFL. 

St. Louis Battlehawks linebacker Willie Harvey just signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Harvey was an absolute standout this season. Named to the All-UFL team, he led the UFL in virtually every defensive category with 78 tackles, four sacks, six broken passes, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

Jaryd Jones-Smith, the Battlehawks All-UFL Team offensive lineman, just signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons. Another Battlehawks player who is expected to be signed soon is their All-UFL Team wide receiver, Hakeem Butler who led the league with 652 receiving yards on 45 catches with five touchdowns, one of which was an 80-yard score. After the Division Conference game, San Antonio Brahmas Head Coach Wade Phillips was overheard telling Butler, “I’m going to tell everybody in the NFL that I talk to that you need to be playing,” Phillips stated, “You deserve it.”  

Other Standout Players

Memphis Showboats wide receiver Daewood Davis just signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers. Davis was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal Showboats season after lighting up the scoreboard with an 82-yard touchdown pass for the league’s longest reception. Davis totaled 41 catches on 446 yards with five touchdowns. Joining former Steelers veteran Diontae Johnson, Davis will be a solid addition to the Panthers’ receiving core for second-year quarterback Bryce Perkins.   

Even though the D.C. Defenders just missed out on making the playoffs this year, two of their defensive players signed NFL contracts. Cornerback Gareon Conley is joining the Dallas Cowboys, while his teammate guard Liam Fornadel has signed with the New England Patriots. 

Although the Arlington Renegades had a challenging season, one of their defensive players, defensive end Jalen Redmond just signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Stallions offensive lineman Dondrea Tillman will help beef up the offensive line this year in Denver just as San Antonio Brahmas offensive lineman Kohl Levao will be adding some muscle to the New York Jets front line.    

Another Opportunity to Play 

After an exciting first season, the UFL made an impact by engaging fans and attracting quality talent. In addition to sparking interest from the NFL, the UFL is also a haven for veteran players who aren’t quite ready to hang up their helmets and provides an opportunity to continue playing a sport they love in a competitive atmosphere.

Main Image: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x