The Pacific Pro Football League announced Wednesday its intention to begin play next winter. The development program for players who graduated high school but aren't currently playing in college is expected to feature four teams playing under professional rules.
ESPN.com reported information provided by the league, which includes former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey as well as Tom Brady's agent, Don Yee, among the founders, stated the average salary will be around $50,000, with 50 players on each roster.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today noted any player four years or fewer removed from high school would be eligible. And while the league doesn't intend to directly compete with the NCAA, its ability to pay players could make it an option for some.
"It'll make sense for a lot of young men and a lot of families," McCaffrey said. "We're hoping to provide them with that choice."
Yee confirmed to USA Today that any player who signs a Pac Pro contract would immediately become ineligible to play traditional college football. So the high-profile agent wants athletes to make a "well-informed" decision, but he thinks there's a niche for this type of league.
"We believe that the business environment is good for a project like this," Yee said. "We believe that the players are ready for a choice, and we think we can be a good supplement to other football products that are out there."
At a minimum, it could appeal to players who aren't able to play in college, whether it's due to academic reasons or otherwise. The league will focus on pro-style offenses to get them ready for the NFL once they pass the three-year waiting period the league requires after high school.
Former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, who serves on the new league's advisory board, is convinced it will better prepare athletes for what they'll experience in terms of pro schemes. He told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports that getting the right training out of high school is crucial.
"Pro football is a specialized game," Shanahan said. "It demands precise techniques and a certain mental approach."
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports provided his assessment of the league's outlook:
Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora
If Pac Pro model catches on could be quite the threat to the NCAA's free-labor monopoly in that age demographic. Play to start in 20182017-1-11 12:44:03
In December, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted a separate venture is expected to launch this spring with a similar four-team structure. The "Spring League" is expected to focus on NFL free agents who are looking to showcase themselves.
All told, the newest development league faces a lot of hurdles as it looks to establish itself within the football landscape. The most pressing of which will be financial, with a price tag in the millions, according to the USA Today report: "Salaries, insurance, medical expenses, equipment—it all adds up."
The intrigue will come in if it's successful in establishing a firm foundation. That's when legitimate NFL prospects could decide to seriously consider Pac Pro, and the salary it would provide, rather than going the standard route through the NCAA.