NFL directed teams not to discuss employment with XFL players

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When the XFL suspended operations last week, it authorized players to sign with NFL teams. The NFL, however, has told its teams not to do that.

A memo distributed to all NFL teams on Tuesday, a copy of which PFT obtained, explains that teams were notified on March 12 “that they were not permitted to discuss possible employment with players under contract to the XFL,” and that this “prohibition remains in effect.” The memo also explains that the NFL currently is working with the XFL to finalize procedures to permit NFL teams to sign XFL players.

The XFL’s position is that its players will be released from their contracts if a “credible contractual offer” is made by an NFL or CFL team, and if the offer is submitted to the XFL. Obviously, that’s not good enough for the NFL to give its teams the green light to sign players like Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker (pictured) or other XFL standouts from a five-week season that ended amid the many sports cancellations prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The league’s current position represents the mirror image of last year’s situation that unfolded in the aftermath of the implosion of the AAF. After initially authorizing its players to leave for the NFL or the CFL, the AAF slammed the brakes on an exodus, taking the position that the contracts represented league assets. Eventually, the AAF allowed its former players to sign elsewhere.