P.J. Walker's impressive showing during the XFL's shortened season may lead to a spot on an NFL roster
I am probably more disappointed than you are, but the XFL season is over. The XFL season being over is not news; the XFL canceled their regular season not long after the NCAA canceled March Madness. However, the difference now is that the XFL has informed its players that as of today, they are free to sign elsewhere with the Notice of Contract Termination.
Thus, unlike its more professional counterpart, the XFL is doing right by the people that helped make it successful. Yes, I believe the XFL's reboot has been more successful than many expected. And yes, the XFL should likely be back next year. However, some of its key players will likely be moving on to the undoubtedly greener pastures or at least paydays of the NFL.
XFL Free Agents and Predictions on Which NFL Team Will Sign Them
P.J. Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks
Let's start with the Captain Obvious pick of Walker. There is not much more Walker could have done in the XFL to earn his NFL shot. Walker would have easily won the league's MVP had one been awarded when the XFL canceled the season. In five games, Walker completed 65 percent of his passes with a tidy 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Will Walker be any team's Week 1 starter? No, probably not. But he has a very good chance of being someone's second-string option. Of course the question is what team? I see at least a dozen teams whom I think could be a very good fit. However, if forced to choose just one team, I think Walker swaps his Houston red for Philly green. Walker threw 74 TDs when he played at Temple and grew up just a few hours away in nearby Elizabeth, New Jersey. Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie seem like the GM/Owner combo who would love to give the local kid a shot.
Prediction: Philadephia Eagles
Jordan Ta'amu, QB, St. Louis Battlehawks
Ta'amu is not going to have the same number of suitors as Walker, and he shouldn't. But the former Ole Miss starter quietly averaged more yards per pass attempt than Walker did. Ta'amu attempted far fewer passes so he did not put up gaudy stats, but he also averaged more than five yards per rushing attempt. Those teams that already have a mobile quarterback as its incumbent might consider giving Ta'amu a shot at being the second or third option.
I was initially thinking the Bills might be a possibility for Ta'amu, but how many guys from Hawaii end up in Buffalo by choice? Meanwhile, Arizona has very little behind Kyler Murray and I could easily see Ta'amu playing in the desert next year. I would not be surprised however if he ends up ironically playing where Walker made a name for himself — backing up Deshaun Watson for the Houston Texans.
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
Cam Phillips, WR, Houston Roughnecks
There will likely be a bunch of XFL WRs in NFL camps this offseason but Phillips will be the biggest WR name switching leagues. Phillips led the league with 455 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches, many of them of the highlight-reel variety.
I don't like giving Houston general manager/head coach Bill O'Brien any benefit of the doubt, but perhaps one of the reasons he was willing to trade DeAndre Hopkins was because he was planning to add Phillips. There are more unfathomable possibilities out there! You know where else I can see Phillips landing? Wouldn't it be just like Daniel Snyder to sign a big-name WR from another league? Of course, it wasn't that long ago that Phillips was catching preseason TD passes from Josh Allen for the Bills. Don't be surprised if Buffalo makes him an offer as well.
Prediction: Houston Texans
De'Veon Smith, RB, Tampa Bay Vipers
As I said earlier this season, running backs are even more secondary in the XFL compared to the NFL. To be honest I don't see a lot of XFL RBs getting free-agent offers within the next week. The one main exception, however, is Smith, who was productive in both the XFL as well as the short-lived AAF last year. After dominating the AAF, Smith led the XFL with 365 rushing yards.
The Dolphins gave him a shot in 2017 and would not be surprised if they make him an offer this week. It makes just too much sense given the lack of talent in Miami's backfield. I wouldn't be surprised however if he goes from the Tampa Bay Vipers to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where Smith would be a good complement to Ronald Jones II.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Donald Parham, TE, Dallas Renegades
Parham was the most dominant TE in the XFL and averaged nearly five catches and just under a TD per week. Will he get an offer this upcoming week? I'm not entirely sure, but if not a contract, I do expect him to get multiple training camp invitations. There are some obvious teams he won't be invited by, but you ready for my dark horse team you probably didn't even consider? Green Bay.
But stop and think about it. Do you really think Aaron Rodgers is thrilled to start the season with Marcedes Lewis as his top TE option? I think there is a lot that Rodgers will like about the 6-foot-4, 280-pound red zone target. Don't rule this out.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Other Players to Watch
I honestly don't know how many XFL players are actually on NFL teams' radars, especially on the defensive side. But here are a handful of other offensive players and which team I'm taking a slightly-better-than-random guess as to what team makes them an offer:
Cameron Artis Payne, RB, Dallas Renegades
Got stuck behind Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. Does he stay in Dallas and get stuck behind Ezekiel Elliott?
Tre McBride, WR, Los Angeles Wildcats
Was drafted and played a handful of games for the Titans. Don't be surprised if the Titans want him back as another target for Ryan Tannehill.
Nick Holley, RB, Houston Roughnecks
He'll be grabbed by a coach looking for a Swiss Army knife-type. Why can't I get Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams out of my head?
Nelson Spruce, WR, Los Angeles WIldcats
If healthy, he will get another shot in the NFL. I am picturing him in Charger Blue way too easily.
Darius Victor, RB, New York Guardians
Probably the biggest surprise here, I just see the Jets who have plenty of questions at RB as more than happy to sign him to a league minimum contract.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.
(Top photo courtesy of @XFLRoughnecks)