Former Bills QB J.P. Losman will be back in the NFL after spending a year in the United Football League.
Losman, a first-round pick of the Bills in 2004, was the first big-name signing for the league when it began to garner some publicity. After working extensively with quarterback guru Jim Fassel and leading his Locos to a championship victory over the previously-undefeated Tuskers, he now will be back under the bright lights of the NFL as a member of the Raiders.
The Raiders were in need of another quarterback. With Bruce Gradkowski injured and out for this weekend's game in Denver, Oakland had two less-than-ideal options on its bench in Charlie Frye, who had a 10-17 TD-INT ratio in his one season as a starter, and JaMarcus Russell, who has a QB rating of 47.7 this season (to put that in perspective, if you or me jumped in there and threw one pass for an incompletion, our QB rating would be 39.6). If Losman has matured, which Fassel told me he vowed to help him do throughout the course of the season, one would think that the Raiders might well give him a shot to prove his worth at some point this year. I mean, it's not like they have much to lose, and there is always that slim possibility that Losman shines.
I'm not saying that he needs to be the next Tommy Maddox, but if Losman can prove to be reasonably successful, this move will be the biggest to date for the UFL, which just wrapped up its "Premiere" season. As excited as the league was when Losman was signed, GM Rick Mueller said it is even more excited now. His "graduation" to the NFL is just the kind of publicity the UFL was hoping for — and needed. In its attempt to carve out a niche in the football world, nothing could have worked out more perfectly than having its most marquee name represent the league's ultimate goal: giving players who haven't gotten the shot they deserve a chance to make a name for themselves.
Mueller said that while he is "excited" for Losman, he really wasn't surprised when NFL squads came knocking at the UFL's door after the season wrapped up.
"I don't know that I'm surprised by (the number of players signed by NFL teams)," Mueller said. I mean, I'm excited; I think it's great for our league and great for the players, but I'm really not shocked by it because the level of talent that we had in our league was really, really good. And these are guys that probably would have been on NFL rosters earlier had they not been with us, but now NFL teams are getting someone who's game-ready, is in shape, has played a minimum of six games in professional football and has been practicing every day. (The NFL teams) know they're healthy, they know they're ready to play. That was really what we hoped for going into the whole deal, and that's really what our league is about."
Like I said and Mueller intimated, if Losman can shows NFL teams that the UFL actually helped him become a better player, scouts from the 32 teams would be far more likely to reach into the UFL's talent pool to grab a few players for the postseason runs. As the league expands to six teams and a 10-game schedule next year, this momentum could really be a boon for the league's chances of long-term survival.