It looks like the UFL might have staying power, after all.
In a move that could set the precedent for the future of the league, the UFL announced today that 11 of its players have signed with NFL teams. Seven more, including Championship game MVP DeDe Dorsey, were invited to tryouts around the league.
“Less than a week after the conclusion of our "Premiere" season, NFL clubs have shown interest in almost 20 UFL players,” said Commissioner Michael Huyghue. “These signings further illustrate the overall quality of play in the UFL and the talent of these players, who if given the opportunity, can compete in the NFL. We wish our players the best of luck with their new teams in the NFL.”
The most notable name to be inked is California Redwoods QB Shane Boyd, who was signed to the Colts' practice squad. Another recognizable name with NFL experience making the jump is K Matt Bryant of the Tuskers, who agreed to terms with the Falcons and is expected to take over the kicking duties in place of the recently released Jason Elam.
Others who will be playing for NFL squads include Tuskers DB Michael Grant (Browns, practice squad), Tuskers LB Quinton Culberson (Panthers, active roster), Locos TE Jake Nordin (Lions, practice squad), Redwoods preseason QB Tyler Palko (Steelers, active roster), Sentinels FB Charles Ali (Ravens, active roster), Sentinels preseason OL Christian Gaddis (Bills, active roster), Sentinels DB Paul Pratt (Lions, practice squad), Sentinels OL Jason Watkins (Bills, practice squad) and Sentinels preseason OL Christian Gaddis (Bills, practice squad).
Though it's not likely that any of these players will get significant playing time other than Bryant, the simple fact that NFL teams are showing interest in players from the upstart league could be a major boon to the UFL's existence. It has been clear from the beginning that the UFL would need to carve out some kind of a niche in the football world, and being something of an unofficial feeder system for the NFL would successfully do just that. If, as the league progresses, it becomes standard practice for NFL teams to grab players from the UFL, this thing just might have a chance to make it in the long run.
Not only will the signings attract more players to try to revive their careers in the UFL, as these signings show the mantra of "getting tape" in the UFL actually holds some weight in the search for an NFL gig, but it could also do something far more important in the eyes of the UFL: put some butts in the seats. If fans realize that this league is for real and players are getting signed to NFL rosters, they very well might be more inclined to check out a game or two.