The UFL stands to gain plenty from the NFL lockout. Already shifting the start of its season into August in the hopes of better competing for eyeballs against preseason NFL football, the UFL would step into the shoes of the league’s pro football monopoly if the lockout lingers.
And with plenty of players not being able to play NFL football, the UFL is considering the possibility of providing employment for the available players.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the UFL is considering a rule that would allow NFL players to return when the lockout ends, even if it happens during the UFL season. The UFL ultimately may permit only “a few” players to leave, since UFL rosters would be decimated by the sudden departure of a glut of NFL players.
The UFL, in our view, would need to have a much more clear standard than that. For players under contract with NFL teams, the end of a lockout would put the players under contract simultaneously with two teams. Surely, no agent would allow his client to sign a UFL contract that would potentially supersede the NFL contract after a lockout.
For players not currently under contract with any NFL team (i.e., those due to become restricted or unrestricted free agents), it would be easier for the UFL to squat on their rights.
Of course, it all may be moot, if the salary to be earned from the UFL would barely cover the disability insurance premium. There’s simply no reason for an NFL player to risk losing his ability to earn at the NFL level if he’s not earning much at the UFL level. Given the financial struggles that the UFL continues to face, we doubt that the UFL will be able to attract many — or any — NFL players with instantly recognizable names.