The XFL released a statement on March 12 notifying fans that the remainder of the inaugural season had been cancelled amid the Coronavirus. With the NFL free agency period in full swing, this decision by the XFL will affect many athletes who were using the league as a platform to build an NFL career
Georgia football alumni, Toby Johnson, spoke before the season about using his XFL opportunity as a stepping stone to get back to the top.
“This here is still business I feel like, everybody is looking to get to the next level…Everyone around here has the same goals: just get back to the next level.” Johnson said after being drafted by the New York Guardians in October.
Johnson finished the shortened season with 11 combined tackles and one interception over the course of five games.
“Hopefully I did good enough to get another shot back into the league. I should be hearing something in the next two months.” Johnson said.
With so much uncertainty in the air, Johnson is remaining optimistic and spoke on a few positives that could be found in the situation.
“I think the pros are that a lot of guys got out healthy right before the draft. A lot of guys got a chance to put up enough…I feel like NFL coaches aren’t going to go through every piece of film there is anyway. In five games you should have made some flash plays. I feel like when you get twelve games or sixteen games they can critique you more…they can find more stuff in your game that you’re doing wrong.” Johnson said.
This is very logical reasoning and may be true as we have seen several XFL players already signing contracts with NFL franchises since the season was cancelled. Quarterback P.J. (Phillip) Walker signed a contract with the Carolina Panthers after playing with the Houston Roughnecks. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, defensive backs Deatrick Nichols and Dravon-Askew Henry also have signed with NFL teams.
Many players are still waiting on contract offers and hoping that those five games were enough to prove their talent. The XFL did state that all players will continue to be paid their contracts as if the season, which was originally set to wrap up at the end of April, was not cut short.
“A lot of guys left jobs to come play in this. They were betting on themselves to basically get one more shot.” Johnson said.