League is considering a developmental league

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With NFL Europe/Europa/Whateva long gone and the Arena Football League close to joining it in extinction, football players not yet ready for the NFL have limited options for developing their game. And so the NFL continues to discuss the possibility of launching a developmental league.

“We’ve talked about it,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters earlier this week. “Some of you may have heard we spent a fair amount of time at the [quarterly] meeting on what we call the 2020 plan, which is talking about how we plan for the future and the things we want to accomplish. One of them is obviously the game, and how do we improve the game? A developmental league could be something that we want to do to try to help develop players.

“We pick up on the rosters from the start of the season to the end of the season, probably three to four hundred players on average. Having those players ready to play as quickly as possible and developed so that their skill set’s furthered are all positive things about the long-term future of the game. I particularly have an interest in that and would like to make sure we’re evaluating that as something that can help improve the game and improve our players.”

A developmental league particularly is needed for the quarterback position, where not nearly enough players are good enough to play at the NFL level. But a developmental league also would be useful for all other positions, along with officiating, coaching, and scouting.

The question is whether the NFL could make money from a developmental league and, if not, the amount of losses the league would be willing to tolerate. NFL Europe wasn’t profitable, and the league eventually decided to stop the sangre.

Some owners may see no reason to give players not yet ready to earn a roster spot a chance to do so — and plenty of players with one of those roster spots may agree. Still, there’s a need for game-ready talent when injuries inevitably occur.

Given the ongoing decline in TV ratings, the NFL also should be wary of potentially diluting the product by adding more football in presumably markets not currently served by the NFL. Would the fans in those markets support a minor league team? If so, would they be less likely to support a nearby NFL team?

As every other professional league has learned in the past 40 years, Americans love football — but only so much of it. Between high school, college, and the NFL, the saturation point possibly has been reached. Before the NFL adds even more football in the interests of developing better football, the NFL should be sure that the effort won’t fail miserably.

37 responses to “League is considering a developmental league

  1. Just run it in the spring and partner with the folks who want to revive the USFL.

    Cities in the SE, Texas and West coast will work. You can use this to test a broader streaming model like youtube and yahoo at the same time.

    The lack of quality depth is starting to show as more kids come from nothing but spread sets and have no idea about route trees and run blocking in a pro set.

  2. There very easily are 16-20 mid sized cities that could support an NFL minor league team. Keep it a short season, maybe 8 weeks in the summer, keep prices reasonable, I think it could work. Arena football and XFL were too dissimilar to the NFL and lacked proper discipline and the deep pockets to sustain success. MLB seems to have no issues keeping the minor leagues afloat, and it’s a less popular sport with 10 times as many regular season games.

  3. What the previous leagues have been lacking is NFL support. And fans. So while NFL Europe was NFL backed, it lacked major fan support, at least in the US. An NFL backed, US centered league would almost certainly be a success.

    And having somewhere for refs to develop? Yes, please.

  4. NFL should consider the new MLS Academy system. Where the franchise operates development teams for the 14-23 year old players, and each year 2 “homegrown” players can be selected to the pro team who bypass the draft.

    That way teams tolerate financial expenses of running the team by being rewarded with a competitive advantage, and the product is much improved.

  5. Portland, Austin, Spokane, Shreport, Reno, Orlando, Memphis, Richland, Des Moines, Salt Lake City, Mobile, Virginia citythese are just some of the cities that have had success in college and the semipro football ranks and could do very well for the NFL if they put out a good product. I have no doubt that if they played in the later spring early summer, and expected a reasonable 12-18k fans and charged reasonable prices that these cities and I’m sure others would have no problem fallowing a team.

  6. Maybe establish teams near major colleges so that local talent can boost fan interest.

    Tim Tebow, QB for the Neptune Beach Bikini Brigade has a nice ring to it.

  7. Screw over colleges and allow players to go to the developmental league after 1 or 2 years of college. The only catch being they won’t enter the draft until considered ready.

  8. Any league would be DOA. It wouldn’t be the NFL and it wouldn’t have the built in fan base of NCAA football.

    Also, most NFL teams can barely scratch up a starting QB, let alone a back up. The play would be so substandard no one would watch for long if at all.

  9. NFL should do away with Thursday games, and this developmental league should play on Thursdays in its place.

    Schedule should start its regular season in August. 8 teams, and each team plays each other once, so seven games for each team. Then, a three round playoff to determine a developmental league champion. All play to be completed around early November.

    This gives teams needing players for injury replacement at the NFL level the chance to choose some players that have had some seasoning.

  10. The real problems is way to many teams, the talent pool is weaker as time goes on. Just don’t have any new team, half the players today could not make the teams of the 60’s and earlier teams.Bill

  11. NFL Europe helped produce some good talent. Kurt warner, brad Johnson, Jake delhomme, la’roi glover, Barry sims, Fred Jackson

    The problems started when teams couldn’t be bothered sending over decent young prospects. Tampa used to sign 10 free agents the day before and send them over as their allocation. Other teams would send over some decent prospects they had or low round draft picks

    When used properly Nfle was great. But if teams sent over total crap then you’ll get crap back What do you want your 3rd string QB doing? Holding a clipboard all year or getting 10 games of reps and experience ?

  12. Of course they should have a minor league. The college programs aren’t really preparing players for the NFL in most cases and in fact are mostly a sham…. most of these guys are not getting real college educations, yet the cost of it is being foisted on the actual students. The NFL needs a legitimate minor league, like yesterday. NCAA being the only real way into the pros is ridiculous for all parties involved.

  13. There should be less football, not more. You can’t miss something/someone that never goes away.

    Besides, the problem isn’t the players ability to learn fundamentals. The problem is poor coaching and poor drafting (management).

    There is also a huge problem with the lack of maturity from some of the players, who seem to be far more concerned with on the field self-promotion than playing fundamentally sound football.

    BTW, one of the reasons for poor ratings, is that the AFC isn’t competitive. I hate the Patriots with a passion, but the Patriots are playing chess while the rest of the AFC is playing checkers. It doesn’t help matters when the vast majority of announcers during Patriots’ games come off as Patriot homers. Yes, the Patriots are good, but the media doesn’t need to harp on it all the time.

  14. They won’t make any money. When would they play? Everyone watches college on Saturdays, and the NFL has the Sunday, Monday and Thursday market locked up.

  15. They should reduce the existing number of teams to a fewer number of more competitive teams…..there are just not enough good coaches and players. They could start by eliminating the Colts and the Bills in the AFC

  16. People keep talking about the summer. The idea would be to have them concurrent so that guys are ‘game ready’. If the development season was during the summer you’d just have a bunch of worn down practice squad guys by the time September rolls around.

  17. As I have said in past posts, the nfl already has a developmental league. It’s called the NCAA. nfl teams should sponsor (pay for) scholarships to colleges through a fund to be paid to schools to “hire” athletes who, in reality, only care about auditioning for the nfl and not furthering their education in advanced basket weaving or domestic abuse denial lessons.
    This would accomplish several things. First, it would free up money to be used to educate men and women who actually want to learn how to survive in the real world, and secondly, it would make pay-for-play legal in college sports (thus allowing colleges to not have to hide the payments they make to the so-called “student-athletes”.
    There are many things that would need to be ironed out, such as how much would Division 1 schools get as opposed to other levels, and even how much would say a Big 10 school get compared to an ACC school.
    This may not be a great idea, but is the system working now? Doesn’t a kid with great learning potential deserve a great education even if he can’t bench press 250lbs or run a crisp pass route?
    Of course you can vote for the liberals who want to give EVERYONE a free college education that you can pay for. The nfl can afford it a lot more than I can.

  18. Taking from two comments above, partner with the CFL, expand from 9 to 16 teams with those new teams coming from the US. Reduce the number of NFL preseason games to 2, cut the number of CFL/NDFL games per season to 8, playing from Sept to Oct/Nov allowing players to be signed to NFL rosters after the Grey Cup. Players optioned to NFL rosters after the season must remain on that teams NFL roster for the following season. All NFL draft picks must go through at least 1 season in the CFL before being optioned to the NFL roster.

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