NFL

NFL Developmental League Not Being Reconsidered, Says Competition Committee Head

Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay, left, answers a question as St. Louis Rams head football coach Jeff Fisher, right, listens during an NFL Competition Committee news conference at the NFL Annual Meeting, Monday, March 23, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
Mike NorrisFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2016

It's been nine years since the NFL had a developmental league, and according to NFL Competition Committee head Rich McKay's comments on Monday, it's not happening anytime soon, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com: 

We have not really studied it lately. It's been a long time since we looked at it, almost back to NFL Europe, and when we looked at NFL Europe and the value of NFL Europe, what we saw in NFL Europe was, it definitely had an impact on some linemen. It definitely had an impact on officiating. It was very costly. And in the end, we transitioned quite quickly to the idea that we liked having more practice squad players than we did a developmental league.

NFL Europe is what evolved from a developmental league started in 1991, according to Sessler, but if something is not making the NFL money, it won't last long.

The league recently expanded its practice squads from five to 10 players, which McKay said has more of a hands-on type of benefit for teams, per Sessler:

[It's] a conscious decision over time to expand ... where coaches can have the ability to coach their own players' techniques and develop their own players, realizing that you're never going to get that game action, but you're going to get your opportunity to put your hands on the player, teach the player -- and we felt like that was a better avenue over time than a developmental league.

According to Sessler, McKay acknowledged he has heard "cries" for a developmental-league return, but it's not in the "forefront" at the moment. Sessler wrote one position in particular would benefit from the NFL having such a league:

The league isn't making this a priority, but it's hard not to dwell on how helpful such a system would be for quarterbacks. If it creates too much wear-and-tear at other positions, the in-game reps would be invaluable for the NFL's third- and fourth-string arms. After all, Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme both played in Europe in the late-1990s before going on to Super Bowl appearances.

That take makes sense, but according to Sessler, head coaches were not in favor of having another league overseas, which plays a role in putting the emphasis on larger practice squads rather than a new league.

The NFL seems to be doing just fine with its current system, and if coaches and owners (who do not appear to have any real desire for an NFL Europe) are happy, there most likely won't be any changes anytime soon.

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