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League sets forth procedures for signing UFL players

Maurice Clarett AP

At one point in recent days, we heard that the NFL had advised its member teams not to attempt to sign any UFL players after the completion of the UFL’s season, given the UFL’s insistence on payment of a $150,000 “transfer fee.”  Such an approach, however, possibly could be construed as an antitrust violation; if one of the NFL’s 32 independent businesses wishes to pay the $150,000, neither the league office nor any of the other businesses should be able to stop them.

As it turns out, the league office issued on Friday a memo to all clubs setting forth the procedure for contacting and signing UFL players.

Per the memo, NFL teams may immediately begin contacting players from UFL teams, if the interested NFL team first obtains a signed consent form that would permit a tryout.  The form must be filed with the league office before any communication occurs with a given player.  Tryouts may commence the day after Friday’s UFL title game.

Then, before signing the UFL player to a contract, another consent form must be executed.

The memo explains the NFL’s understanding that the $150,000 fee won’t be charged if a UFL player receives a tryout, if a UFL player is signed to the practice squad, or if a UFL player is signed to an NFL “future” contract after the current NFL season ends.

The memo also explains that a UFL player may be signed to the practice squad and later promoted to the active roster without the $150,000 fee being paid.  That’s an important loophole, but it encompasses only a narrow band of UFL players who retain the ability to join an NFL practice squad.

For example, running back Maurice Clarett could be signed to a practice squad, because he never was on an NFL roster.  (Maybe the guy that once used a third-round pick on him will be interested.)

It remains to be seen whether NFL teams actually take advantage of the ability to sign UFL players upon payment of the $150,000 fee.  Last year, 43 UFL players were signed by NFL teams.  If none make the leap this year, there’s a chance the UFL will claim that the NFL teams have violated the antitrust laws on a wink-nod basis, and that the memo was window dressing aimed at undermining a claim.

As a reader recently pointed out, maybe the UFL eventually will duplicate the USFL’s success in court against the NFL, harvesting a whopping $3 verdict.

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7 Responses to “League sets forth procedures for signing UFL players”
  1. hooterdawg says: Nov 21, 2010 9:05 AM

    I have lost respect for Mark Cuban as a businessman. His support for this fee is dooming the UFL to the lowest quality players in the future.

  2. dryheaveone says: Nov 21, 2010 9:10 AM

    just one question……What the Hell is the “UFL”? …..is it a division of an English soccer league?

  3. realitypolice says: Nov 21, 2010 9:29 AM

    dryheaveone says:
    Nov 21, 2010 9:10 AM
    just one question……What the Hell is the “UFL”? …..is it a division of an English soccer league?
    =====================

    lolololololol. Good one! Oh boy, that one never gets old!

    I see what you did there. You acted like you never heard of the UFL as a way of mocking them.

    Pure comedy gold.

  4. dryheaveone says: Nov 21, 2010 10:33 AM

    Thank you “realitypolice…, I’m glad you appreciate good comedy when you see it

  5. livenbreathefootball says: Nov 21, 2010 10:43 AM

    Florio, you’re sort of a lawyer, explain something to me (and everyone else).

    The transfer fee appears in the player’s contracts. The contract is between the player and the UFL. How can the NFL be required to pay a fee mandated in a contract to which it is not a party?

    The UFL could require the player with whom it has the contract to pay a fee to be let out of the contract. But, it can’t require another business that is not a party to the contract to pay them anything.

    This would be like GM requiring Ford to pay it a fee every time someone trades in a GM for a Ford.

  6. djeg07 says: Nov 21, 2010 11:25 AM

    power play in action… ufl wants to be something the nfl wants them to be minor leagues or d-league.

  7. Ryan Forsyth says: Nov 21, 2010 12:04 PM

    PFT is the only place and time I read or think about the UFL. I have a feeling I’m not alone among football fans.

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