Oliver Luck: XFL will consider taking players before eligible for the NFL Draft

Getty Images

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence can’t play in the NFL until at least 2021.

But he’d potentially have an option to become a pro a year earlier if he wanted.

XFL commissioner Oliver Luck has openly suggested the upstart league, which will begin play in 2020, could become a safe haven for players who don’t want to spend three years in college for whatever reason.

Lawrence, a true freshman, has to stay in school another two years (or at least not join the NFL) because of the collectively bargained deal between the NFL and NFLPA which creates a de facto free farm system, and provides colleges with a pool of cheap labor. Players have to be three years out of high school to be eligible for the NFL Draft.

During a December podcast interview with with Brian Berger of the Sports Business Radio Road Show, Luck said flatly: “We’re not subject to that.”

“Theoretically we could take a player right out of high school. I doubt we’ll do that,” Luck said, noting the difference in physical development between an 18-year-old and the 24-to-25-year-old fringe NFLers they plan to build their base from.

“But I wouldn’t rule it out,” Luck said. “Nor would I rule out taking a player who played a year of college football and let’s say isn’t eligible academically, which happens. Or a player who is two years out of college, and is transferring, and would have to sit out a year. A lot of guys don’t want to. . . . We are in that position to be able to take players who wouldn’t be eligible to play in the NFL. . . .

“But that’s an option that we have and we’re going to look at it long and hard. There are a lot off very good college players after a year or two who may not want to play that third year of college football, may need to earn a little money, support the family. That’s not uncommon as well.”

Luck has said the league will pay salaries in the $250,000-$300,000 range for top players (i.e. quarterbacks) for what could be a five-month commitment. That’s an alternative for a player who doesn’t want to develop his skills for room and board and the opportunity to take classes which fit into his football schedule.

College players can also take out “loss of value” insurance policies to protect themselves against an injury which would affect their draft stock.

There’s no indication that Lawrence is anything but happy with his Clemson experience and wants to stay. But if he decides he’d rather get paid while developing, it sounds like there’s a league that would be happy to let him.

38 responses to “Oliver Luck: XFL will consider taking players before eligible for the NFL Draft

  1. I love the NFL but I wouldn’t mind if this panned out and the old boys network that is the NFL had a little competition to worry about.

  2. This is a great idea. Here ya go young man, $250,000 to play same number of games or less before heading to the NFL……if the NFL doesn’t blackball any player who breaks rank from their chain gang college farm system.

  3. That’s huge if they start doing this and college players start coming out early to get a decent paycheck that they may never get if they suffer drastic injury playing in college for free, and never get drafted, the NFL might need to reconsider their years out of high school requirements.

  4. NCAA just needs to start giving these kids a cut. They are the show, they deserve some money.

    I used to be in the “they are getting an education” camp, but these kids leave when first eligible now. It’s rare to see the player stay through graduation.

  5. wow… can u imagine? top recruits turning down colleges on signing day and signing with the XFL?

    that could be a gamechanger…

  6. Stay in school!! Hone your skills and get ready to be the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. I can hear the Commissioner already, “With the first pick, the Green Bay Packers select Trevor Lawrence, Quarterback Clemson University.”

  7. When you are an entity that will never actually come into existence, you can make any rules that you want and ignore any existing rules that you want. As in: When I create a new smartphone to go head-to-head with the iPhone, my smartphone will be invisible and allow me to fly. Mark my word.

  8. ““We’re not subject to that.” Really means, we don’t have a CBA agreement with a union that would restrict our ability to sign kids less than 3 years out of high school.

  9. Can’t see a downside if Lawrence chooses to opt for the XFL for a couple of years, it’s not like he doesn’t know what his profession will be.

  10. In order to be successful this new XFL needs to land some of the best young prospects and current free agents and lure them away from the NFL. 250-300K/yr is not going to get that done. It’s the only way people will get interested enough to tune in, unless they have some great gimmicks, which didn’t work out so well last time around.

  11. There is the issue of having the talent to develop the players while there. On the surface it’s, “yay we get paid” but if you don’t have the development coaches the NCAA has, then you risk losing ground as a player instead of gaining it. Consider this. The same player will be eiligible after 3 seasons in Clemson or 3 seasons for the Rochester Rockets. Who might prepare him better and who will the NFL value more?
    Because this is what it’s all about right, money?

  12. jackedupboonie says:
    January 8, 2019 at 3:19 pm
    This is a great idea. Here ya go young man, $250,000 to play same number of games or less before heading to the NFL……if the NFL doesn’t blackball any player who breaks rank from their chain gang college farm system.


    The NFL could just start treating the XFL as a defacto free farm system too since the money isn’t coming out of their pockets.

  13. The NFL will stay one step ahead. The new league is going to have to get a good TV contract if they expect to stick around. The most watched TV shows are NFL games. I don’t think any major networks are going to do anything the NFL doesn’t want them to do. The bottom line is Oliver Luck is a bright guy, a Rhodes Scholar. He’s smart enough to know he’s not going to be around long if he doesn’t play by the NFL’s rules.

  14. Couldn’t a kid get a GED at 14 or 15. Then homeschool and be eligible to play sports at the local public school?

    That seems like a loophole for a phenom to get around the rule.

  15. with the childish protests quashed, the nfl is back in favor & the xfl will have an uphill battle on it’s hands

  16. As a college football this would be awful! I am surprised given the fact that Oliver Luck was Athletic Director at a University that he would be in favor of that. It is bad enough that college teams have to worry that their best players might go to the NFL a bit early now they are going to have to worry that the XFL will take their young guys early as well! I don’t like this one bit!

  17. zoneread510 says:
    January 8, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I like the NFL rule that players need to be out of high school 3 years before they are eligible.
    It’s inherently discriminatory and exploitative to benefit colleges getting huge cash as a result of their efforts. It cannot stand in a free country as none of these players agreed to it individually or collectively.

  18. I guess it comes down to a decision from the player: Does he want to walk away from what may very well be superior coaching and players of the same caliber as he is and go to somebody who will likely want to mold him and may actually hurt his NFL value? If you’re at Clemson, do you want to play for another national championship, or go play for pay in Bugtussle with facilities that can’t possibly match what you have now?

  19. There is another reason why they wait. It’s because he is a true freshman. His body isn’t mature enough to take the beating of 300+ lb grown ass men busting up his body. Watch how many 3-4 year college athletes come into the NFL as string beans only to bulk up 1-2 years of turning pro.

  20. Some team still going to “Draft” him so once the XFL folds or his contract is up he goes to the team who drafted him? Kinda like the NBA drafting European players, they don’t instantly come over, they keep playing a year or two over there and then come over.

    Otherwise he plays in the XFL for a year and then is a free agent, big bucks talks there. Better burn a draft pick on him now boys.

  21. With the first pick in the XFL draft, the Toronto Dumpsterfires formerly known as the Buffalo Bills, select Trevor Lawrence quarterback Clemson

  22. Because the league worked out so great the first time. I’ll give the AAFL a better chance to succeed they have many more people involved that have been around the game of football.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.