The Curious Case of Alternative football league Quarterbacks
Covering quarterbacks from XFL, USFL.
In the world of football, as well as the real world, your team is only as good as your weakest link. Quarterback is the non-negotiable most important position on the field. The NFL dominates and will continue to dominate at having the highest skilled players available to play, so, when you have not one but two alternative football leagues that need to fill their rosters, it can be quite the competition and bidding war for the best available "54th man" as the XFL calls it. Kyle Sloter, Jordan Ta'amu, Paxton Lynch and Luis Perez are the four former USFL starting quarterbacks that all left for the XFL. The XFL has been very active in signing former USFL talent and NFL talent, offering slightly better contracts, and paying quarterbacks more than the USFL will, with the XFL paying former NFL quarterback Brett Hundley a $200 thousand contract, per my report earlier this month. But does higher pay equal better talent? The USFL ideology on quarterbacks seems to be buy in on young NFL quarterbacks (J'mar Smith and Case Cookus) while the XFL seems to look at veteran NFL options (A.J. McCarron and Brett Hundley). As long as the XFL is paying quarterbacks more than the USFL will be close to paying, they will undoubtedly have the better play at the position, but dont sleep on the USFL guys just yet. They more than proved their worth, with many people thinking Smith was deserving of the MVP and Cookus going from backup to being thrust to the starting role and ending the season an MVP candidate.
Naturally, I think we should discuss and compare the stats of the quarterbacks who stayed in the USFL and those who left for the XFL.
Four quarterbacks from USFL to XFL (including partial season starters):
Luis Perez: 173 Att, 124 Cmp, 71.7 Cmp%, 1,200 Yds, 9TD-1Int
Kyle Sloter: 168 Att, 291 Cmp, 57.7 Cmp%, 1,799 Yds, 9TD-11Int
Jordan Ta'amu: 302 Att, 172 Cmp, 57 Cmp%, 2,156 Yds, 14TD-12Int
Paxton Lynch: 83 Att, 54 Cmp, 65.1 Cmp%, 550 Yds, 5TD-4Int
Four quarterbacks that Stayed in USFL (including partial season starters):
J'mar Smith: 238 Att, 130 Cmp, 54.6 Cmp%, 1,572 Yds, 10TD-6Int
Case Cookus: 208 Att, 130 Cmp, 62.5 Cmp%, 1,340 Yds, 12TD-5Int
Josh Love: 132 Att, 70 Cmp, 53 Cmp%, 787 Yds, 4TD-4Int
De'Andre Johnson: 75 Att, 54 Cmp, 72 Cmp%, 772 Yds, 2TD-2Int, 310 Rsh, 4Td
QB Paxton Lynch was benched in his first start for the Orlando Guardians
XFL week one
To put week one quarterback play nicely, it sucked. Paxton Lynch, the most expendable USFL quarterback was benched after awful play, and he continually blamed other players during his sideline interviews. As a common theme among QBs for week one, Luis Perez played excellent during the first half, then collapsed ending the game 22-for-36 passing for 236 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 84.95. Jordan Ta'amu, the former 2020 Battlehawks quarterback, however, did not do enough, in my opinion to even keep his job for week two, going 8-for-19 passing for 86 yards, one interception and a quarterback rating of 34. The Defenders did bring in backup D'Eriq King after Ta'amu had been struggling, but never officially benched him.
As I have been saying for some time, paying old, former NFL quarterbacks top league money is not the way anyone should go. The talent shown in week one of the XFL was up to par with the USFL week one play. The USFL strategy of bringing in fringe, young practice squad quarterbacks and developing them is a much more cost-effective way to bring quality talent into any spring league. Old, washed-up NFL talent is not the way to go. As of writing this, the USFL draft is tomorrow, where they will draft from the college pool of players to claim future rights to them. Who knows, maybe a future USFL star will be born for the 2024 season.