The XFL officially cancelled its season late last week, and after some negotiations with the NFL, XFL players are free to sign with NFL teams on Monday, March 23rd. After a week of limbo, the NFL announced that its clubs could start signing XFL players at 9 a.m. ET today.
The five games create a limited sample size, but there were some impressive performances that likely have some XFL players on the radar of NFL teams. It’s going to be difficult to earn roster spots, but plenty of players should get a crack at a roster spot in offseason workout programs and training camp.
We’ll be breaking down the best players at each of the skill positions, moving on here to the wide receivers and tight ends. The receivers face a slightly tougher task with the 2020 NFL Draft featured some ridiculous pass-catching talent, but there is going to be some room on rosters. The tight ends were fairly under the radar in the XFL, but there is at least one intriguing name.
Cam Phillips, Houston Roughnecks
This was a passing-friendly league, but Phillips was unmatched across the board. In five games he caught 31 passes for 455 yards and nine touchdowns. Projected out to a 16-game schedule, that would have resulted in 99 receptions, 1,456 yards, and 28 touchdowns. His touchdown pace had slowed a bit, but it was still a ridiculous level.
Phillips spent 2018 on the Bills roster, splitting time between the active roster and practice squad. He did not play in the league after the Bills waived him late in 2019 training camp, but his XFL performance suggests he has something to offer. The growth in spread out offenses could bode well for him later this summer.
Nelson Spruce, Los Angeles Wildcats
Spruce missed the final two games with a knee injury, but had a strong first three games. He caught 20 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He also ranked third in the league in yards per route run. Spruce spent time on various NFL rosters, practice squads, and injured reserve lists between 2016 and 2018, and then spent early 2019 in the AAF.
Tre McBride, Los Angeles Wildcats
McBride missed the first two weeks with a thigh injury, but quickly made up for lost time when he returned in Week 3. In three games, including two with Spruce sidelined, McBride caught 17 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He led the league in yards per route run and ranked third in deep pass reception percentage.
De’Mornay Pierson-El, St. Louis BattleHawks
Pierson-El had an up-and-down season, but proved to be a dynamic playmaker out of the slot. He finished the season with 23 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and led the league in reception percentage for slot targets. He also ranked seventh in overall yards per route run.
Donald Parham, Dallas Renegades
Parham entered the XFL as a tight end, but played more as a slot receiver. Of his 276 total offensive snaps, 18 were inline in a tight end or extra blocker role, 50 were out wide, and 208 were in the slot. He finished the season with 24 receptions for 307 yards and four touchdowns. At 6’8 and 237 pounds, he could easily be mixed into a spread-out offense.