On March 12, the XFL announced it was canceling the rest of its regular season.
While the XFL didn't specifically cite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the decision, the NBA, MLB, NHL, the NCAA, and many other leagues have suspended operations and canceled games and championship tournaments in response to this global public health threat.
Time will tell if the league will last. The AAF got off to a similar start last year but folded due in large part to a lack of funding. That should be less of an issue for founder Vince McMahon, but ratings and attendance will have to remain high well into the spring for it to last longer than its lone previous season in 2001.
Of course, one of the major costs for the XFL is the player salaries, which are still far lower than that of most NFL players. So how much do the players make?
XFL salaries are incentive-driven
Aside from quarterbacks, XFL players will reportedly be paid the same, and their salary structure is largely driven by how they and their team play.
Players receive paychecks every two weeks, and there are 13 pay periods from Dec. 4 to May 31. Each paycheck is $2,080, which adds up to a base pay of $27,040 for anyone who spends the entire season on a team.
XFL teams have 52 players on a roster, but only 46 will suit up for each game. Appearing on the active roster nets a player an extra $1,685 per game — or $16,850 for a full 10-game season. Additional bonuses are available for playoff games, although the league has not disclosed those yet.
Teams will be competing for more than bragging rights (and a chance to audition for the NFL) as well. Players on winning teams earn a $2,222 bonus per victory. Going undefeated would nearly double a player's base salary before considering the active-roster bonuses.
In all, a player who spends the entire year in the XFL ($27,040), starts every game ($16,850), and wins half of his games ($11,110) will make $55,000. That is the number the league is using as the average player salary with full-time starters earning salaries between $43,890 to $66,110.
Not bad at all for a half-year of work, although the health risks for players are hard to put a price tag on. At the very least, unlike its former incarnation, the XFL is providing health insurance for every player this season, which is expected to cost the league $10 million.
It's worth noting that the AAF signed their players to three-year, $250,000 contracts, which is a significantly higher salary for most players. But, of course, they folded due to a lack of resources and even missed payroll during the season once. The $55,000 figure is also less than McMahon paid players in 2001; their $45,000 salary adjusted for inflation would be worth $65,000 in 2020. Perhaps the XFL will stay afloat by suppressing player salaries.
Quarterbacks will be making far more
The most important position in football has always been quarterback, and it has been key for the XFL to top attract top talent to keep it afloat. How did they do that? By paying starting quarterbacks way more than any position.
According to a report from Yahoo Sports' Shalise Manza Young, the XFL will pay quarterbacks more than the NFL rookie minimum, which was $495,000 last season. That means that quarterbacks will be paid approximately 10 times more than the rest of their teammates.
Whether that is sustainable is another question, but the XFL had to attract relatively big names like Landry Jones to join the league. As someone who had a decent shot to make an NFL team as a backup, it would be nearly impossible to make him the face of the league with a five-figure salary.
It's worth noting that the super-charged quarterback contracts would only apply to top quarterbacks in the league, not all signal-callers on team rosters.