NFL got 2,000 applications to veteran combine, one guy signed

AP

Well, no one can say yesterday’s veteran combine was a meaningless affair.

OK, they probably still will, but it at least generated a transaction.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Cardinals have signed wide receiver Nathan Slaughter, the first player to make it out of the morass that was the event at the Cardinals facility.

The league dragged 105 players in to work in front of a handful of General Managers, and a bunch of bored-looking scouts and position coaches. As a collection of talent, it was largely what you’d expect from guys not quite up to being a part of the 2,880 roster spots the NFL current has available.

Of course, it could have been an even bigger sideshow.

After the Michael Sam portion of the circus was over yesterday, NFL director of football development Matt Birk said the 105 names picked were actually the cream of the crop.

Birk said they received around 2,000 applications, meaning they rejected around 1,900. He didn’t say (and frankly, I forgot to ask) if the league refunded the $400 application fee for those not selected, or whether that money paid for the extra cameras needed to make the Sam documentary the league televised last night.

That incredible number of hopefuls shows the event may find a future, even if no one’s quite sure what it’s going to look like.

Birk said that after talking to teams, the preference was to lean toward younger players with less experience, and no game tape to grade. But there were a number of older veterans there like quarterback Brady Quinn, along with defensive linemen Adam Carriker and Jamaal Anderson, guys who were coming off injuries that were thought to have ended their careers.

Birk said the league didn’t put players through physicals as part of this weekend’s process, allowing teams to bring in players for their own examinations if they looked good enough to merit a plane ticket.

Birk also wouldn’t bite when asked if quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Vince Young were part of the unchosen 1,900, saying “We’re only going to talk about the guys that are here, that’s the route we decided to take.”

In the end, the signing of a guy like Slaughter won’t move the needle, or change the way NFL teams scout fringe players.

If anything, the number of guys rejected, and the class of players who weren’t, might be most effective for thinning the herd, and convincing a lot of guys to give up the dream.

49 responses to “NFL got 2,000 applications to veteran combine, one guy signed

  1. All I can think of is the open tryouts scene from that Eagles movie some years back. Was there a balding guy in a cape?

  2. Probably went for the bigger names so they could get bigger ratings thus aligning their own pockets.

    Can’t tell me out of 2,000 players, you can’t find a handful of guys who still have it. Andrew Hawkins was found on a dang reality show.

  3. That’s a lot of players. You would think the USA could support minor league football better than we do. Then again, a lot of these guys are probably unwilling to play for minor league money.

  4. I wonder how valuable the 40 time is for veterans. Most of the rookie combine eligible players are specifically training for it and the 40 is about technique as well as speed.

    I also wonder about the ongoing success of a veterans’ combine if only 1 player gets signed.

  5. The NFL really needs a minor league for players who still have something left in the tank. Plus it’ll give teams look at players

  6. Sad… just an overall feeling of sadness watching it all. Who thought this would be a good idea? Goodell’s Factory of Incompetent keeps chugging along.

  7. Is it just me or does this seem like a lame attempt to keep the NFL in the news during a slow time? Also seems that participating in this event just confirms that no teams have any interest in the player and might do more harm than good.

  8. I find a strange irony in the timing of this event coinciding with the several recent “retirements” of guys who have played less than a handful of years in the league. Here you have 2,000 former players willing to do literally just about anything for one more chance at a roster spot that other much younger, healthier guys are literally giving away.

  9. In other articles the 40 times have been brought up. It appears that everyone was SUPER slow at this combine, but in one of the articles it said that the scouts were clocking most of the guys a few tenths faster than what the “official” time was.

    Not saying that that means any of these guys should get signed, but this may be a case when the machine was broken/not working right.

  10. Charging players to try out is shameful when you consider how much money the NFL rakes in each year…. No one should expect a handout in this world, but if you make a tryout “by invitation only” then let them try out without paying a fee (and $400? Where does that number come from lol?). Especially considering 99.9% will be back selling cars or whatever they did prior to the combine.

  11. “He didn’t say (and frankly, I forgot to ask) if the league refunded the $400 application fee for those not selected…”
    Really? You really think you need to ask if the NFL returned money?

  12. The fact is, no one is going to get signed by doing drills. They need to see these guys perform in game situations, like scrimmages and practice drills.

  13. Stop it with this whole Sam thing.
    I get it he’s gay, but he’s NOT a pro football player nor is he worth a roster spot just to satisfy the political left.

  14. If there is a market for brian hoyer then there is a market for all 2000 that applied because hoyer is the most inaccurate passer ive seen in 40 plus years of watching football

  15. I completely forgot this event was taking place yesterday. I was watching the NCAA tournament. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  16. granadafan says:
    Mar 23, 2015 2:43 PM
    The NFL really needs a minor league for players who still have something left in the tank. Plus it’ll give teams look at players
    _____
    I agree. There are thousands of college players that end their college careers every year that would jump at the chance to play minor league ball in order to get a shot at the big-time. There’s no shortage of cities that would host a team. LA could have 2 of them.

  17. Think perfect timing with all of the players retiring early there will be roster spots and most of these veterans are dying for another shot or even young guy like Sam would give anything to make 53 man roster. Problem with NFL minor league would be generating interest as have college with best prospects and NFL best players where would mediocre young players and fading veterans league draw any fans from College or NFL? Also have CFL and Arena as minor leagues

  18. “$800,000 in application fees.”

    That may cover some of the booze bill at the owner’s meetings.

  19. They should have it in July. Then teams can get a short list for training camp injuries. Plus, the draft is over and need may exist at certain positions.

  20. What’s funny is that at some point in their respective drafts quite a few of the players attending this combine were thought to be can’t miss pros that would have a decade long career. Just goes to show those “experts” actually know.

  21. People seem pretty hung up on the application fee, but if you think about: They got 2000 apps with a $400 fee–how many would they have gotten if there was NO fee or a very small fee?? 10, 000? 20,000? It would have been impossible to narrow it down in the time frame they had. I think this whole thing was a nice idea, but totally unnecessary. The NFL teams put forward huge amounts of effort to scouting talent and knowing about who is out there and what they have left. The book was already out on these guys…I guess the Cards just drew the shortest straw and were the ones who had to pick up someone.

  22. What’s so embarrassing is that people trained for these.

    How the hell can Willie Gault run a 100-meter dash (10.88 seconds) and 200-meter dash (22.44 seconds) at age 50, but these guys can’t get 4.5 or better at RB or WR????

  23. dryzzt23 says:
    Mar 23, 2015 2:57 PM
    Stop it with this whole Sam thing.
    I get it he’s gay, but he’s NOT a pro football player nor is he worth a roster spot just to satisfy the political left.
    =====================================
    How about this?
    Stop it with this whole Tebow thing.
    I get it he’s a religious fundamentalist, but he’s NOT a pro football player nor is he worth a roster spot just to satisfy the political right wing and Christian extremists.

  24. Now 2 players have signed. And I’m sure several others will over time.

  25. For everyone clamoring for a football minor league, how would they pay to run such a league without fans, networks, owners, the NFL brass, etc. interested? It’s a nice idea, but football is not like baseball since each team can carry 53 players plus have a practice squad in waiting.

    If the NFL can’t get you to pay for it, they sure as hell won’t.
    It’s a business to EVERYONE except the fans.

  26. Birk said they received around 2,000 applications, meaning they rejected around 1,900. He didn’t say (and frankly, I forgot to ask) if the league refunded the $400 application fee for those not selected, or whether that money paid for the extra cameras needed to make the Sam documentary the league televised last night.
    ========================

    Yeah, it’s just $760,000 that the league could have pocketed for little-to-no-reason at all.

  27. Calling it a veteran combine was the first mistake.. most of the applicants weren’t veterans, but guys who could never hack it in the first place

  28. 1. Michael Sam needs to go to Canada if he really wants to continue his career.

    2. “Alternative” football leagues never make it. Been there, done that. It should never be attempted again. If you can’t make an NFL roster, go to Canada or Arena League. There is no interest in “minor league” football teams. NFL Europe proved that.

  29. People have wasted over a billion of dollars over the past 40 years trying alternative football leagues, and Americans want no part of it.

    Players who attend audition camps for any league, NFL, CFL or Arena do pay a registration fee, so this isn’t unparalleled, and this isn’t refunded if they don’t show.

    As for Sam, yeah, the Alouettes have a uniform and a contract with your name on it.

  30. Personally, I’d rather the veteran combine be like the regular combine. I would rather watch the drills as they happen with commentators talking over them instead of three talking heads with clips of the drills thrown in.

  31. Worst part is when 1900 are turned down to start with, it’s kind of a waste. They can turn this into a “American Idol” style program, showing some of their plights, their workouts, maybe a personal interview about how hard they will work to be on the team, and then some (more than one) getting signed, and showing them signing their new contracts. They can call it, “American Underdog: One Last Stand.” It would be a cool show for NFL Network to show how hard it is to get it back and make it to the NFL again. It’s hard enough to get there the first time. But to get back once you’ve been given up on, or told you don’t have it anymore, would make a great must-see TV program.

  32. How about a 4 team league for player development and guys returning from injury? No cameras, no ticket sales, just guys getting better at playing football. Don’t tell me there aren’t undrafted college players who could make it if they could just get a year or two of NFL coaching.

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