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UFL aggressively trying to poach undrafted rookie free agents

Mark Herzlich AP

The owners’ transactions freeze prevents undrafted rookie free agents from signing with NFL clubs. And, as promised by Hartford Colonials coach Jerry Glanville on PFT Live just over a month ago, the lower-level football league is already in the process of poaching undrafteds.

Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the United Football League has moved up its draft and 2011 season, at least in part because it intends to aggressively pursue UDFAs.

The UFL draft is taking place today.

“If you really look at the population of NFL players, the majority are first- and second-round picks, but once you get past that, the second-biggest group is the undrafted group,” explained Omaha Nighthawks G.M. Rick Mueller. “… It’s a pretty good pool of talented players.”

The UFL is banking on the Eighth Circuit Court in St. Louis implementing a full stay of the lockout injunction. If the stay is not granted, Mueller, Glanville, and their competitors will have little chance of signing rookies who went undrafted by the NFL but were selected by the UFL.

The catch is that any player signing with the UFL will be bound into a contract, according to Breer, and unable to job-jump into the NFL. So players like Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, and West Virginia running back Noel Devine would be taking quite the risk by signing with the less desirable football league.

Agents are expected to advise their undrafted clients to stay patient in hopes of landing with an NFL club, which undoubtedly has and will remain their ultimate goal.

But Mueller is also confident that the opportunity for sooner playing time — and acceptance, via the UFL draft — will appeal to at least some players.

“This is an opportunity for us to change the process,” Mueller said. “And it’s not a window that’s going to come open very often. We can offer these players a UFL opportunity. You mention guys like Tony Romo or Jake Delhomme, well, they sat around to get their chance. We offer guys like that an opportunity to play, and do it as part of a three-to-four month process, so that by Halloween, they can go to the NFL.

“And at that point, they’ll have real pro experience under their belt.”

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7 Responses to “UFL aggressively trying to poach undrafted rookie free agents”
  1. sneaky1632 says: May 2, 2011 9:12 AM

    I hope the UFL does well, start to hurt both the owners and players where it hurts… their pocketbook. Once that happens they will wrap this CBA nonsence pretty darn quick I gaurentee you that.

  2. shackdelrio says: May 2, 2011 9:26 AM

    Another victim of the foolish lockout. If I was an UDFA, I would sign with the UFL and get paid whatever I can. Why wait around for the greedy owners and player’s union to finish fighting?

  3. prior0knowledge says: May 2, 2011 10:14 AM

    I hope the UFL is successful. I hope the lockout gives the UFL a chance to catch on. It would be nice if the UFL turns into a minor football league, giving marginal players a chance to play and develop. There is just too much football fandom out there for just the NFL.

    I also hope the UFL takes some thunder away from college football, which I find objectionable because everybody makes money off the student athlete except the athlete themselves.

  4. farmmbig says: May 2, 2011 10:48 AM

    Why leave it at the undrafted free agents???

    Some of the late-round picks should consider getting paid through the UFL too.

    In fact, it makes me wonder why a UFL team wouldn’t go hard after the likes of Ryan Mallett.

    Maybe it’s time for Mark Cuban to begin opening-up the checkbook and serioulsy begin tapping into some young talent.?

  5. thefiesty1 says: May 2, 2011 1:49 PM

    Go get them while the league is still working thru their little labor issue. Those undrafted free agents can get a little more experience and maybe impress an NFL team.

  6. kernelreefer says: May 2, 2011 2:10 PM

    Why wouldn’t agents negotiate the contracts for some of these players to have a job-jump clause if they get a call from an NFL team, with caveats like returning to the team that has your rights if you don’t make the cut or end up on the practice squad?

    Yea, putting that clause in there would decrease your pay, but it would be healthier for you in the long run. If you don’t get the call, negotiate for a longer contract without the clause as soon as this one-year contract is up.

    Also, doesn’t the UFL have to start paying people at all before they can talk abotu attracting new talent? I hear that’s actually a problem and checks are bouncing.

  7. mashoaf says: May 2, 2011 2:11 PM

    They can leave for the NFL once they pay to be released from their UFL contract.

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