It goes without saying that every player in the XFL wants to play in the NFL. But as the XFL tries to establish its footing on the football landscape, it’s a reminder of the reality that the best XFL talent will end up telling Commissioner Oliver Luck that they want some more.
Currently at the front of the line to exit the XFL will be Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker, whose performance through two weeks puts him in position for a chance to join a 90-man roster (again) in the hopes of making it to a 53-man roster (finally).
“That’s the goal, you know?” Walker said this week, via Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. “That’s the mindset. So for me, it’s just taking it one day at a time and, you know, not looking down a lot. Just taking it one day and, you know, whatever happens, happens at the end of the season.”
Walker, who spent three offseasons and preseasons with the Colts, currently is using the things he learned from the likes of Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett in Indianapolis to become one of the best quarterbacks in a quarterback-challenged spring league.
“I saw so many different ways to grow as a player, to grow as a person, you know — to even grow as a . . . eventually when I have kids, to grow as a father,” Walker said. “So just to see those guys and the way they work every day. . . . It just showed me how to be a professional, showed me that this business is really legit and you need to be on your P’s and Q’s every day.”
Walker has at least eight more days over the next eight weekends to show what he can do, with potential playoffs to follow, before he can leave for the NFL. (Coincidentally, his coach at Temple now coaches the Carolina Panthers.) It’s entirely possible that, come next January, Walker will once again be available to play in the XFL. But to the extent that the XFL turns potential into production and creates quarterbacks who are good enough to land on a regular-season NFL depth chart, the XFL will then need to hope that it can find more fringe NFL players who blossom in the offseason, only to graduate to a bigger stage.
That’s hardly ideal for the XFL. To truly establish itself, the XFL needs roster continuity at the most important positions. The problem is that, if those players have enough success, they’ll be gone from the XFL, possibly for good.