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Momentum builds for developmental league

Delhomme Getty Images

For more than a decade, the NFL had a developmental league based in Europe.  High costs and sputtering interest eventually resulted in a shutdown of the business that had as many name changes as Sean Combs.

But a push continues to bring back minor league football.  New NFL V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent tells the Associated Press that his recent remarks supporting such a venture struck a chord.

I got more than 100 proposals,” Vincent said.  “I think that shows it is worth a look.”

It’s definitely worth more than a look.  It’s worth action.  There are too many players, coaches, executives, and officials with potential and too few opportunities to let them grow and develop.  With owners having no patience, coaches have little or no margin for error.  They need to win now, not to undertake long-term projects that would bear fruit for perhaps the next coach of the team.

Or, in Cleveland, the next coach after that.

The most important position has the greatest need for development, given the dearth of developed players to throw the football around the field.

“Quarterbacks often don’t come to you ready-made, particularly with the way college football is played now with so many spread offenses and half-field reads and so forth,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told the AP.

He’s right.  And with limited chances to make quarterbacks into NFL players, they need a place to get reps at a level close to the NFL — from film study to game planning to practice sessions focused on facing a certain type of defense to actually executing the game plan and making adjustments during the game itself.

For players like Jake Delhomme (pictured), the absence of an opportunity to play in a minor league probably would have resulted in no chance to play in the NFL.

If the NFL ever considers expansion to fill the vacant markets from L.A. to London and in between or beyond, the league needs more competent quarterbacks.  A developmental league would be the best, and perhaps only, way to get them.

But what would be the best way to stage a developmental league?  NFL consultant Marc Ganis believes the model works best from March to July.  Former Browns G.M. and current Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage believes a small league confined to a specific region of the country makes the most sense.

“I do envision some sort of developmental league, based maybe in Florida or Texas or Arizona,” Savage said.  “Anywhere from four to six teams; I don’t think more than eight.”

The idea would be to keep costs low by reducing travel, and to generate revenue by selling the rights to one of the NFL’s current broadcast partners.

Regardless of the details, it’s an idea that is overdue.  Currently, it seems inevitable that the league will be doing something to help further develop folks who eventually will contribute at the next level of the sport.

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87 Responses to “Momentum builds for developmental league”
  1. nflofficeadmin says: Jun 9, 2014 7:54 AM

    If you want people to care, make it a hard knocks league so viewers learn about the players in the league and are compelled to watch those players.

  2. atlfan31833 says: Jun 9, 2014 7:54 AM

    I would defintely enjoy watching! Maybe have during offseason. It would keep me from having football withdrawal and more importantly players that do well could be pulled up in time for regular season.

  3. daaabears says: Jun 9, 2014 7:56 AM

    Agree this is overdue. It would raise the level of play in the NFL, while also giving us (assuming a spring league) a way to wean off football season.

  4. jimmyt says: Jun 9, 2014 7:57 AM

    If you’re not NFL material you just are not NFL material. Good players don’t need the extra wear and tear incurred in a developmental league. The average amount of years an NFL player has is already pretty short.

  5. mdp44 says: Jun 9, 2014 7:58 AM

    Hopefully they’ll let kids coming out of high school, who don’t want to go to college and probably have no business getting into college, play.

  6. oliverduckhunt says: Jun 9, 2014 8:06 AM

    Yes! I was thinking about this last week and a buddy of mine said “college football is minor league football” and that’s not entirely true… Every team could have 1 developmental team in a nearby city instead of banishing all of our left over talent to the CFL to never be seen again. Football’s easier to sell than any other sport, so it could easily be the most successful minor league sport if its clear from the start that its not an NFL rival, its not a mockery of the sport like arena football, it would be a dumpster fire that the XFL was, and the minor league teams shouldn’t be scattered like MLB minor league teams are. If they’re lucky, D-teams could share college stadiums if need in the beginning, but this is a great idea & I hope the NFL buys in because its 100% up the owners & the market would eat this up IMO!

  7. thelastwordyaheard says: Jun 9, 2014 8:10 AM

    guys not interested in an education (or at least some semblance of one) will want to play in this, the problem is that nobody wants to watch it.. and it certainly isn’t a viable alternative to major college football in terms of overall appeal to fans of the game

  8. Goodell's Green Glasses says: Jun 9, 2014 8:15 AM

    The league that Johnny built.

  9. pslbucfan says: Jun 9, 2014 8:19 AM

    I could see this being a good thing for the practice squad guys and those who should have gotten a chance but got passed over. I see it as even more of a passing league though, as running backs would just take further damage while trying to get a look from NFL teams, thus shortening their careers even more.

  10. dalfanforever says: Jun 9, 2014 8:23 AM

    Wasn’t this tried with semi-pro ball? I’d be cool with this for 8 teams or so in a D league.

  11. fatguystrangler says: Jun 9, 2014 8:27 AM

    This idea makes too much sense to happen, so it probably won’t. Why not have a developmental league for those players who otherwise would be a student-athlete in name only? At least quarterbacks, among other positions, can get valuable professional reps.

  12. iloveagoodnap says: Jun 9, 2014 8:27 AM

    A very rare instance in which I agreed with all your points in the article, Florio. Nicely said and done.

  13. oliverduckhunt says: Jun 9, 2014 8:28 AM

    In other words instead of debating why Tebow shouldn’t be a NFL QB… let him be a DFL QB, that way if he’s miraculously successful then an NFL team could promote him within and give players another shot & if he still can’t hit water off the side of a boat – they could just as easily demote him.

    Would it eliminate practice squads? Would the NFL draft be longer? (probably) I think this is all fascinating! What night would they play on, Wednesday?

    Maybe the do start off with 8 teams, kind of like the NBA D-league where pro teams can share a D-leauge team, but football’s a different animal with a much larger audience… I think one day it would certainly grow to where every team has their own minor league team. Very exciting stuff.

  14. Canton Bulldogs says: Jun 9, 2014 8:29 AM

    Like the March to July idea but I would think the developmental league has to start after the draft. So, I think it is inevitable that it runs parallel with the NFL season. Easier to “bring guys up” who are already in football shape.

    Another idea would be to affiliate with the CFL. Maybe the CFL doesn’t want the image of the developmental league for the NFL but it would greatly expand its exposure below the border.

  15. jjb0811 says: Jun 9, 2014 8:32 AM

    Why not give the D league to countries that want the game (Mexico, Canada & England)? Oh yeah, it mentioned in the article that it’s been done & the league folded. Keep the game in America.

  16. sommerday says: Jun 9, 2014 8:34 AM

    There is the Rivals Professional Football League in Southern Michigan that just started up by Quentin Hines (NFL player), the grandson of Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton. They will play a four-game exhibition season and six regular-season games.

  17. diegiantsdie says: Jun 9, 2014 8:38 AM

    I thought that’s what the afc north was?

  18. ravensfanfromcanada says: Jun 9, 2014 8:49 AM

    I think it’s a great idea ever other major North American sport has a minor league why doesn’t the nfl, you can afford to take a qb in the 6th round and let him learn game experience instead of just getting reps in practice. It would work for coaches as well by being able to gameplan on a week to week basis. The idea of having it in 1 or 2 states will help travel costs and could end up being a more competitive league then that league we have up here in Canada.

  19. Scott Hutton says: Jun 9, 2014 8:54 AM

    Agree that this idea is long overdue. Start with eight teams, one for each division. The four teams in that division provide players to their “Division team”… once the league gets established, expand out to 16 teams, with each team being the development club for one NFC and one AFC team (arranged geographically). That way, a team in San Antonio is the development team for both Dallas and Houston. ATL and JAX share a team… TB and MIA share a team, CAR and TENN share a team, etc. Sixteen teams would be about right, and give a lot of opportunity to develop everything from players, to coaches, to GMs, to officials. Just my thoughts.

  20. pftfan says: Jun 9, 2014 8:54 AM

    Good! The NFL needs a developmental league that runs concurrent to the NFL season, that youngsters and practice squads can prep for along with the big team.

    Each team should have a minor league team, with coaches that run the identical system as the big league squad. If anyone on the 53-man gets injured, one of the minor leaguers can get called up and have actual game-day experience within that system as opposed to leaving it to chance.

  21. fishyinalittledishy says: Jun 9, 2014 9:04 AM

    I wonder which would be the best way to chose the players for these 8 or so teams. Some kind of draft for those guys not on NFL squads or guys that don’t get game time during the season are loaned out to these new franchises. When i first heard this i thought every team would have have a development team but i guess that would cost to much. Still what ever they come up with i think will be good because at least we get some football during the close season.

  22. tjacks7 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:06 AM

    A farm system will never work until they link each farm team to an NFL team and let each team develop their own talent for their NFL team.

  23. psj3809 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:15 AM

    The league worked in Europe when teams sent ‘proper’ developmental players. Instead at the end teams like Tampa Bay basically signed 15 scrubs a day before the deadline and sent them over, they werent interested. Funny how Tampa Bay didnt mind the league when Brad Johnson won them a Superbowl as he was a former WLAF QB.

    Any developmental league whether its in the US or Europe will only work if NFL teams use it properly. Look at Colin Klein from the Chiefs, players like him would be ideal for the league to get 10 games of experience rather than an offseason just lifting weights.

    Again the likes of Jake Delhomme, Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson and many others did very well in NFL Europe which ‘helped’ (not saying it was the sole reason) them in the NFL whether it was getting exposure or reps.

    Its a shame theres no offseason football to watch, IF NFL teams sent decent 3rd stringers to get experience, 10 games of catching passes or throwing passes, that’ll help than doing ‘nothing’ in the offseason. But teams have to use the league properly or it’ll become a joke.

  24. qdog112 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:19 AM

    A few weeks back I suggested that the NFL put some of their mega-profits into a semi pro league and I got “thumbs down”, instead of the free exploitation of the college system. Now, suddenly it’s viable. OK.
    ***********
    “… the league needs more competent quarterbacks.” I contend that there are enough QBs, just not enough competent talent evaluators. The powers that be, are so interested in promoting guys with few skills, that they ignore QBs who actually have potential, often forcing position changes, a trip to Canada or career changes all together.

    Starting a league to develop QBs is not necessary, when better coaching and scouting will solve the problem.

  25. backdapack4evr says: Jun 9, 2014 9:25 AM

    I thought the Vikes were Seattle’s developmental team!!

  26. sportsfan18 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:30 AM

    There IS a way to do this and be successful…

    MORE than one way actually.

    With the popularity of the NFL, I’m surprised the owners have not capitalized on this already.

    They have the money, connections and everything else in place to make this happen. They know all the players in TV, advertising etc…

    They (the owners) would get MORE money and get to develop players the way they wanted to and not the way some college coach thinks…

    No, I don’t have the idea… but each team has a practice squad of 8 players.

    Seems to me the practice squads might be better being a tad bigger and actually playing against other practice squads while being shown on TV and having folks pay to watch in person while sucking down $5 and $6 dollar beers and other high priced terrible stadium snacks…

    Someone eventually will make this work…

  27. bornahawker says: Jun 9, 2014 9:32 AM

    If you build it they will come. The NCAA is not built for big time Football or Basketball. The NCAA is built for the likes of women’s Lacrosse and Baseball talent that is afraid to go pro at 18.

  28. weepingjebus says: Jun 9, 2014 9:32 AM

    Then what would we do with the Jets?

  29. trytobnimble says: Jun 9, 2014 9:34 AM

    Expansion beyond 32 teams is insane! If anything, there should be a contraction back down to 30 teams.

    There isn’t enough talent out there to fill 32 teams with real NFL caliber players as it is. All of the other major leagues have 30 teams. There’s a reason for that. You don’t want a league with diluted talent. And that’s what we have in the NFL. Some teams will suck forever.

  30. catfanatic1979v1 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:40 AM

    Keep it confined to the south from March to July. You must be 21 or have been on scholarship at a college for 2 years for football.

  31. vikesandravens78 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:43 AM

    This needs to happen already. Seems long overdue in my opinion.

  32. hisandherpes says: Jun 9, 2014 9:44 AM

    Canada?

  33. realfootballfan says: Jun 9, 2014 9:46 AM

    The problem is that it just doesn’t work. We saw it with the World League. Football is too violent of a sport to be wasting snaps in a minor league. It’s bad enough some of these players get used up in college like the RBs. Sounds good on paper, but this is not going to happen because of the past failure. Just look at players that ripped up the WLAF. I think Lawrence Phillips was probably the most heralded player from his season there, and he promptly went to the 49ers and was responsible for missing the block that essentially ended Steve Young’s career. The highly rated quarterbacks did nothing, neither did any of the receivers, and let’s not mention defensive players who played well there. Most barely made rosters.

  34. swortybounce says: Jun 9, 2014 9:52 AM

    Tim Tebow likes this

  35. 4thandlonger says: Jun 9, 2014 9:53 AM

    Spring/summer league. From May to July in between the draft and training camp.

    Maybe up to about 10 teams.

    Cut down NFL rosters to 85 and have a signing period for these spring league players that is just before training camps when the NFL roster jumps up to 90 again.

    Who’s interested?

    San Antonio, Austin, Memphis, Orlando, OKC, Louisville, Portland, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Omaha?

    NFL teams are full of guys who out of sheer luck due to injury etc got to see plays coaches weren’t counting on and ended up being very good. It’s also filled with guys who have high reputations but never get tested and hang around for years before being found out. A D-League develops more of the guys who can play and need a chance and turfs out the pretenders.

  36. dennisatunity says: Jun 9, 2014 9:54 AM

    I love the idea, and there is another element to it, too, that is not quite as glamorous. A developmental league also gets to grow and develop front office talent–GMs and directors of player personnel, VPs and possibly even some additional scouts. They all need to learn their aspects of the game, too.

  37. daneraider1 says: Jun 9, 2014 9:55 AM

    I’m think along the lines of scott hutton. initially there could be 8 teams, one per division. one in Vegas and LA tied to each west division. one in San Antonio and Shreveport for south divisions. one in mobile and jax(once the jags move to London, i mean just look at the name) for the north divisions. one in Orlando and Austin for each east division.

  38. earlofoxford17 says: Jun 9, 2014 10:00 AM

    Lets face it, the rule changes and the CBA are designed to keep salaries low by filling the league with faster, albeit inexperienced players.

    A developmental league will produce experienced players who want to get paid.

    Therefor, it won’t happen.

  39. kd75 says: Jun 9, 2014 10:03 AM

    It is too hot in Florida, Texas or Arizona from March through July to play football. Players might even cramp up.

    Put it further north.

  40. natigator says: Jun 9, 2014 10:09 AM

    This would be easy to do – start with 16 teams. Each team would be a feeder for 2 NFL teams

    Put the teams in cities/ (preferably) states without pro teams to increase interest – possible locations in no particular order,

    East 8 – Birmingham, Des Monies, Hartford, Columbia, Orlando, Providence, Louisville, Grand Rapids

    West 8 – Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, Austin

    Play during the NFL regular season, no one would care in the spring/summer months. Allow call ups throughout the season like baseball, players could be demoted down to AAA (so to speak). To keep costs down, play 14 games (2 each against teams from the same division).

    While its unlikely many stars will be found, this could certainly add depth to rosters

  41. ibottpsgoldpants says: Jun 9, 2014 10:15 AM

    What people fail to realize is that you don’t “waste talent” in the minor league. Good players are drafted and still go directly to the NFL. It’s the fridge players that will fill these squads. For example, most teams have 4 or more QBs on their teams now, but come regular season time most will only carry two.

    I’d play the season concurrent with nfl games so that like baseball players can be called up during the season.

    Players also have to have their rights owned so fans can associate players with their team. It’s important for buy-in.

    I’d get rid of Thursday night nfl games and run these games on Thursday and Fridays. It certainly provides more football for fans to watch without affecting players safety.

    They could also try out new rules in this league.

  42. contract says: Jun 9, 2014 10:19 AM

    That would be one hell of an expense just to produce a dozen or so mediocre players.

  43. tomtravis76 says: Jun 9, 2014 10:20 AM

    Each franchise should have its own minor league team. Have the draft in March, run the league April- July which includes a final 4 playoff to championship game. Teams could use their unoccupied stadiums during this time, plus sell new merchandise for their minor league teams. Fans would flock to the stadiums just as they do now, maybe reduced ticket prices for the minor league games to attempt to offer the game day experience to those who could not afford it in the past.

  44. flaccoishermanmunster says: Jun 9, 2014 10:20 AM

    Open the gates to anyone…..the “turd watch” counter will never make it more than 1 day.

  45. realfootballfan says: Jun 9, 2014 10:21 AM

    Looking at the comments here, you can see that most people commenting here didn’t watch the WLAF. It was a pretty bad product because the star players make the sport. Unless you’re talking about eliminating the 3year-out-of-high-school rule, which no one is proposing, this is a nonstarter idea. People talking about it will help develop coaches and front office types are out to lunch, too. How many of those WLAF successes became stars in the NFL? Didn’t think so because picking through the NFL trash is a bit different from your job hinging on picking the right players to build a foundation for a real franchise upon. Maybe the NFL ought to concentrate on paying their good players instead of trying to constantly screw them and replace them with younger, cheaper replacements.

  46. pancaketaco says: Jun 9, 2014 10:35 AM

    I like the idea, but they’d have to play at the same time as the NFL. If they played May, June, July the players would have nothing let in the tank come training camp…and no way the union would allow players that catch on to a team to have contact from May to January.

  47. klownboy says: Jun 9, 2014 10:36 AM

    I more than believe that a developmental league for the NFL would work. Just as long as the league does not have too many teams.

    Eight to 16 teams would be perfect.

  48. greymares says: Jun 9, 2014 10:36 AM

    I love the idea but I’m not a college football fan. College football as we now know it will be taking a tremendous hit.

  49. klownboy says: Jun 9, 2014 10:38 AM

    Well the reason why the WLAF did not work was two-fold:
    1) it started out as a competitor of the NFL before the NFL took it over and…
    2) the teams were based in Europe. No one in Europe gives a hoot about professional football over soccer.

  50. charger383 says: Jun 9, 2014 10:39 AM

    Just contract it to the SEC

  51. notthetroll says: Jun 9, 2014 10:40 AM

    Football is still a rough game. I think if the NFL wants this, they should do it, make the NFLN a free service on basic cable and carry all the games. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is and besides, they could use some content improvement on NFLN.

  52. irishinyourface says: Jun 9, 2014 10:50 AM

    NFL2..put it on Lifetime and QVC

  53. docsweeney says: Jun 9, 2014 10:52 AM

    A variation on previous proposals above:

    One team for each division: AFC North, NFC North, AFC South….

    That team then plays in area around that division – AFC North – team based out of Ohio/Pennsylvania – maybe Columbus or Toledo for example.

    Teams in that division send 10-15 players from their training camps that do not make final 53/practice squad.

    Teams plays 4 games home and away against conference (AFC North, South, East & West team) and 4 against other conference, with half being home and half away for twelve games. Season starts mid March and end around June 1st.

  54. mpcny says: Jun 9, 2014 11:00 AM

    You do this on Saturday at the away teams home stadium. This way the stadiums are used more often, every weekend. You start the season a bit later say 2 weeks after the NFL start, so the guys are in camp and end it bit early so build to the super bowl. Thier play-offs are after week 14 and end week 18.

  55. bobzilla1001 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:03 AM

    There are more “ready-made” QBs coming out of colleges now than in the history of football. No more apprenticeships. They are playing in the pros immediately. And a lot of them are not being drafted in the first rounds: Wilson, Kaepernick, Foles, Cousins.
    The Golden Age of QBs is over. The rules have changed to make good QBs great, average QBs good and bad QBs average.

  56. phinsfanjoz says: Jun 9, 2014 11:05 AM

    I can’t see NFL fans not watching an NFL-backed developmental league if it’s put on TV.

    The blessing of the actual league we watch during the regular season, additional playing time, additional and different analysis (not just hearing the same stuff over and over during the offseason) and some sort of “second chance” and/or “better first chance” for players…

    If it’s done right, I kind of don’t see how this isn’t a win-win-win-win (etc) proposition for all involved.

    The devil’s always in the details, as NFL Europe (or whatever it was last called) can help prove, but if it’s based state-side and given the proper resources?

    More, and possibly better quality regular football? Heck yeah!

  57. njjets28 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:06 AM

    In the 70’s there was a developmental league with teams in. Jersey. City(Browns) Long Island ( Giants,Bridgeport(jets) they played Friday and sat nights and we saw some future stars and it was fun

  58. oliverduckhunt says: Jun 9, 2014 11:09 AM

    Reading these comments: I surprised by how many people think they should play the games BEFORE the NFL season……. you heard the outcry from the NFLPA about player safety in regards to adding 2 games to the regular season…… Do yall really think they’d actually let players endure say 10 games in a developmental league AND THEN play a full NFL season? that’s crazy.

    It’d be nice to see each team eventually have its own developmental team so it could also serve as the practice squad too. That’s where they’re going to be the most successful because its just easier to support a team when apart of an organization you already support…

  59. caspius1 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:11 AM

    I would say if you use it as a developmental league you would allow some players to jump from high school to the development league instead of going to college. College’s will hate it so that wont go through. Right now they have the market cornered. If you want to go to the NFL you have to go to college for three years. It helps them sell their tickets and TV Time. As for taking the good players and replacing them with younger and cheaper that works everywhere. But than again wouldn’t a team be willing to pay more from a proven commodity coming from that league? I would think so. They would also need to figure out if the person from the development league would be considered a rookie or a vet. I would think vet so they can get paid. I think it is a good idea. But like most it wont happen because of college and NFL getting together to agree.

  60. horsepedlr says: Jun 9, 2014 11:12 AM

    increase squads from 53 to a bigger number. gives more players a shot.

  61. oliverduckhunt says: Jun 9, 2014 11:13 AM

    Could you imagine if every team did have there own developmental team and travel with the NFL team & played before the NFL each week during the regular season, so everyone that bought an NFL ticket could show up a few hours early on gameday, which most already do, and could watch the developmental teams play beforehand…

    Just a thought :)

  62. silverhornet says: Jun 9, 2014 11:13 AM

    It seems so obvious to have a D league yet we still don’t have one. The problem is logistics. At what point do you actually have teams square off against each other?

    In between January and August, the NFL signs players for their OTA’s, minicamps and training camp. The NFL roster is set at 90 players between the draft and the end of August.

    So once the NFL rosters are cut down to 53 players, you’ve got 1,184 players trying to cram their way (if eligible) onto the practice squad (256 players total) of 32 teams.

    That leaves 928 players on the street between the end of August thru to January.

    On a 45 man roster D league, that’s roughly 20 teams worth.

    But… if you’re going to run the D league in between that time frame, TV revenue is going to be absolutely minimal… you’re competing against the NFL and College football for viewership. Lets face it, TV revenue is what keeps leagues afloat. The local attendance revenues will only get you so far.

    If you try to hold the league during the NFL’s offseason, in the Spring (where you could actually get some TV $), what type of product can you put out there if a vast majority of your player pool is not available to you?

    Logistics.

    A possible solution?

    A Year Round Season. 8 games in the NFL offseason. 8 games in the NFL regular season. Same teams, same competition. You just have a break in the May thru August months. This way you solve a lot of the logistical issues. You generate interest in the league in the Spring. And perhaps some of that interest carries over to the Fall.

    The NFL still needs to be involved in the D league though. Whereby players can be called up to the pros under certain criteria.

  63. swede700 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:14 AM

    I think there are enough players to justify more than just 8 teams, but at least 16 (which means each team could farm out players to 2 teams). I also don’t like the the solely regional aspect. If you want to reduce travel, have the teams a short distance from each of the major market teams (i.e. Des Moines farming out players to the Vikings and Chiefs and Portland farming out players to the Seahawks and Raiders).

  64. peerjp says: Jun 9, 2014 11:15 AM

    I would like to see each of the 32 teams have their own farm team. Install the same offenses and defensive schemes and terminology. Keep the team close geographically to its NFL counterpart. Start in week three of the NFL season, after cuts and after week one roster shuffling. End the regular season after 10 games. Eight teams make the playoffs, with the season championship over by week 15 of the NFL season. Players could be called up from the farm to the NFL team at any time. Keep player salaries low, play in rented college or university stadiums on Tuesday or Wednesday nights, and the NFL teams can subsidize as a developmental cost if necessary.

  65. peerjp says: Jun 9, 2014 11:19 AM

    The only way this works, is if each NFL team has a farm team of its own, that it’s NFL fans will care about. Nobody wants to watch 3 or 4 players loaned to a shared team, that will probably never see the NFL roster.

  66. isphet71 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:22 AM

    I wouldn’t want to run a minor league team where 4 different NFL teams were feeding you players and threatening/pulling strings to get “their guys” to play. “Start my QB or I’m not letting you play my RB any longer.” “We will hire you as an assistant next year if you just play our kicker over Seattle’s for the season.” Tampering would be rampant.

    I don’t think you can do it unless you have a 1 to 1 relationship between major and minor league teams. The NHL/AHL does great, and they bus everywhere in spite of playing much more than one game a week.

    Get the league started in Texas/SEC country. Put the “northern and western” affiliated teams in major cities so they can develop their own fan bases down there, or those programs wouldn’t sell tickets nearly as well as the farm teams for the local NFL teams like Dallas, New Orleans, etc.

  67. biggredbird76 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:23 AM

    I am all for this

  68. humptyfratz says: Jun 9, 2014 11:28 AM

    Do this, and bring the soccer concept of relegation into play: promote the three best D-League teams up to the NFL, and drop the three worst down to the D-League.

  69. oliverduckhunt says: Jun 9, 2014 11:42 AM

    lol, did you just recommend relegation?!

    “I’m sorry Jerry Jones, the Cowboys finished in last place so you won’t be in the NFL next year, you’ll be in the big D-leauge.”

    That would never happen.

  70. qdog112 says: Jun 9, 2014 11:45 AM

    Some people will buy anything as long as it has the NFL shield on it. The league will never do this while they already have a free farm system called college football.

  71. granadafan says: Jun 9, 2014 11:56 AM

    The NCAA is not a development league because there is a time limit. The players are just entering their peak AFTER they leave college, both physically and mentally. Some develop slower than others or weren’t in the proper collegiate system or left for various reasons.

  72. moralorel says: Jun 9, 2014 11:58 AM

    The NCAA always has been and always will be the prime breeding ground for NFL talent, from players to personnel. They need to just partner up, in a logistical way so that it serves, as it has, as the DFL. This way, a new league isn’t competing for interest. Times are changing. Collegiate players will eventually be paid in some manner. Why not take advantage of what’s already there??

  73. lowercasejay says: Jun 9, 2014 12:07 PM

    This would also help develop coaches, referees, general managers, scouts, etc for the bigs. Smaller cities could have teams which would allow them to benefit from the NFL’s marketing power. Players sent to D-league from the draft would need to be in football shape immediately because that first year of D-league then the pros if they make it would be a serious year physically.

  74. realfootballfan says: Jun 9, 2014 12:14 PM

    charger383,

    Most people watch the games on TV. The reason the WLAF failed was because it had bad NFL washouts who never became anything. Also, the NFL was involved from the beginning when they started playing and had notable NFL types in the league like Mouse Davis, who was the father of the run and shoot offense, and Mike Lynn in the front office who’d led an NFL team before. In addition, you might want to check your facts. There was only one European division originally, while the rest of the teams were based stateside in cities like Orlando, Sacramento, Birmingham, New York-New Jersey, etc. Only after it’s initial failure did they retool and move all the teams overseas. I remember because I was hyped up for it like it sounds like a lot of you are before actually seeing the product. In addition, the UFL is a good example of how this doesn’t work. Doesn’t matter if the NFL wasn’t backing that league; you get the players who can’t make it in the NFL and it leads to a sorry product on the field. Again, unless we’re talking about eliminating the 3-year rule so that high schoolers can go straight to the minor league like in baseball, this is a silly idea that has already been proven to fail in football.

  75. buckybadger says: Jun 9, 2014 12:28 PM

    I understand why fans and media think this is a good idea but in the end it isn’t ever going to work. NFL has a development league and it is called the NCAA. The average NFL career isn’t even 3 years long. Most guys are in and out of the NFL so fast that it isn’t worth the time and investment to send him to a development league.

    This isn’t baseball where most of the 1st rounders of the draft in 2011 haven’t even played in the majors yet. Football is a young mans game, spending years of development at age 21 is beneficial for very few athletes and the owners aren’t going to spend a ton of money to develop a handful of players in a decade.

    Doesn’t work in football. Been tried and proven it doesn’t.

  76. pennstater2005 says: Jun 9, 2014 12:36 PM

    Spring league, please. And keep Donald Trump away.

  77. gitlin1 says: Jun 9, 2014 1:15 PM

    How about 8 teams with one team from each divison? For example all of the NFC East practice and developmental players on one team. It would be cool to see which division had the best players.

  78. criticaldsj says: Jun 9, 2014 1:32 PM

    Lots of people with short memories. We had an NFL developmental league that played during the offseason. It was called the WLAF.

    It lost $25 million over two years and the NFL pulled the plug on the domestic version because no one watched it on television or in person.

    People that watch pro football in the US watch the NFL brand in the fall. That’s it. Nothing else.

    There are two sides to this issue:

    “I know there’s a mountain of emperical, factual evidence that these things always fail, but this time it will be different.”

    And…

    40 years and $2 billion worth of failure to get Americans to watch offseason or NFL alternative football.

    I’ll take the latter, thanks, and let you suckers pour time and money down this sinkhole.

  79. Seahawk says: Jun 9, 2014 1:50 PM

    I like the idea. They should play in spring and summer to fill the football void in the offseason.

    I remember watching Jon Kitna lead the Barcelona Dragons to win the World Bowl. Back then he was throwing balls like lazers. Pity he never did that for the Seahawks or Lions.

  80. gashmr says: Jun 9, 2014 1:56 PM

    Its a good idea. For instance; a team like Seattle could base their farm team in Minneapolis and draft the good prospects for tryouts with the big league team….oh wait….they do that already.

  81. djshnooks says: Jun 9, 2014 2:15 PM

    I’m not about to read through all 80 comments to see if anyone mentioned this idea…but I’ve said it numerous times…

    Do it like the NHL does it!!!

    Have a “farm-system,” a minor league…where NFL teams can send players to develop, like the practice squad…but actually invest in developing them. Late round picks, street free agents, D3 kids who still need to grow a little and refine their game, kids who lose college eligibility and/or don’t get drafted; etc.

    A perfect example of this would be, let’s say…Seantrel Henderson, who the Bills took with their 7th round pick. Here’s a kid who has all the talent in the world, but he is stuck behind some veterans and higher draft picks. If he is not ready come September, Buffalo should not have to lose him simply because of that reason alone. So, they should be able to, and could send him to a developmental league where he can work on his game, against other NFL talent who is just not ready or stuck in a numbers game on their team. Then, at a later point in time, maybe due to injuries, Buffalo could “call him up” so he could see some action and try to stick…and he would have a better chance of doing so, after playing in a different league, rather than sitting on the practice squad all year.

    Then after a certain amount of call-ups, or after their first year…if a guy gets called up, but happens to be sent back down…he would go on “waivers” for another team to be able to claim his contract/services, without giving up compensation…which really makes the GM do his job right.

    I think this is such a perfect idea, that the NFL wouldn’t even consider it. It works to perfection in hockey, and even basketball. Think of how many good players we would have never seen or even heard about if it were not for the NBA d-league, the American Hockey League (AHL), the CHL/OHL/WHL/QMJHL/USHL…and again in baseball with the A/AA/AAA leagues.

    This would make more money, improve the quality of football being played, improve the chances of making or at least having a shot to make it…and it would bring entertainment to cities that otherwise would not get to see amateur/pro sports in their city…and it could also serve as a rehabilitation league for injured football players trying to make a comeback, like the NHL/AHL does with conditioning stints.

    It all just makes way too much sense…and I say, start with the Canadian Football League. It’s already established, and we’ve already found great players there. Plus, it extends the NFL into Canada…and opens the possibility for another “NFL-Europe,” where a team could be in London, Mexico and/or other big cities, outside the USA.

    I’m hoping someday we see it happen.

  82. herman23934 says: Jun 9, 2014 2:29 PM

    I don’t understand why you don’t have junior teams and academy systems. Why do you let players get recruited to college programs.

    Should be taking young players and putting them through academy systems for different age groups.

    Different teams feeding into the senior team when they can due to age. Go and recruit your talent and nurture it. Look you can even pay them.

    Would be great to have teams with different age groups.

  83. stoicpaisano says: Jun 9, 2014 2:46 PM

    This is further along than most think, don’t know if it will be 2015 or 2016 but would be shocked if it doesn’t happen.

    It could be a great opportunity for guys signed to future contracts after the Super Bowl or “rehab” appearances. With the prevalence of redshirting, you’ll see guys like Christine Michael or some mid-round QBs from the previous draft who got no live-fire reps.

    I doubt any team will throw their newest draftees into the mix but UDFAs might want to join to enhance their visibility.

    Expect tons of roster moves.

  84. reewilliams2003 says: Jun 9, 2014 3:56 PM

    I miss the USFL. Lot of stars from that league played in the NFL. Ohh.. wait what year is it?

    NVM.

  85. xinellum says: Jun 9, 2014 4:01 PM

    A regional league will only draw regional support. If you want it to be developmental only then regional is the way to go, if you actually want to make money, the. You are going to need national and international support. You can have two conferences, one that includes 2 East Coast teams, 2 from Canada and 2 in London and one that includes 2 West Coast teams, 2 southwest teams and 2 in Japan. Then have a championship game between the two conferences. 6 teams per conference and splitting it up like I said, travel won’t to be too expensive because each team has a crosstown team to play two games a year therefore the distances traveled won’t be significant and it allows testing the international market without too much investment.

  86. simonator917 says: Jun 9, 2014 5:04 PM

    Using facilities used by MLB teams for their spring training would seem to make the most economical sense.

  87. motobus says: Jun 9, 2014 5:15 PM

    Pay college kids, and change the years removed required from 2 to 4.

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