It’s time for Rodger Goodell to convince NFL owners to pony up the money to start a Spring football league.

The XFL is closing its doors, and it’s time for the NFL to invest in Spring football. It won’t be for league castoffs, but for NFL-hopefuls instead. It would be a chance for college-age players to make some money, play for a shot in the league at the same time, and have an alternative to college football.

Here are the league rules as far as player eligibility and NFL status:

  1. A player must have earned a high school diploma or GED
  2. A player can play through the fifth year after his high school graduating class
  3. Players are not NFL free agents, they still can be drafted
  4. Players may opt into the NFL Draft and return to the league if undrafted or choose to sign as an undrafted free agent in the NFL; signing as an undrafted free agent removes a player from league eligibility
  5. If a player is not drafted in the draft following his fifth season, he becomes an NFL free agent

The teams/schedule

The roster rules will be the same as college football (in terms of scholarships). The active roster will be permitted to have 85 players on it. Also, there is a “redshirt” opportunity for players. They will be permitted to be on a practice squad (with less pay). Players will only be permitted to be on a practice squad for one season (like a redshirt).

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There will be eight teams, just like the XFL. Like the NFL in the early days of the postseason, there will only be two divisions with the division winner being the sole qualifier for the Championship Game.

The 10-game regular season will start on the weekend after the Super Bowl and culminate nine weeks later, with the Championship being the week after the regular season.

Pay Tiers

The tiers will be based on high school evaluations from an independent committee of scouts not affiliated with any team.

First-tier – earns 20% of the NFL league minimum
Second-tier – earns 10%
Third-tier – earns 5%
Fourth-tier/Practice squad – earns 2.5%

The Effect on the NFL

This would dramatically affect the NFL’s offseason. First, the Combine would have to move. Second, the Draft would, and finally, OTAs, minicamps, and training camps would have to be later as well.

It will also have a dramatic effect on scouting. Teams would have to scramble for late tape on the third to fifth-year players in the league, but that’s fine because it’ll test their true ability to find players.

Health Risk

Dr. Steven Stoller, an orthopedic surgeon — in a conversation with me about recovery time — told me he believes an April season completion and a July team start to the offseason program is long enough using the spring ball/summer camp comparison.

Final Thoughts

As long as the NCAA refuses to give at least a stipend to “student-athletes,” there needs to be another option for football players. This is their option.

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