NFL Developmental League?

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IJune 30, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell introduces 16-year old Zachary Hatfield (L) from Florence, KY, Hatfield then made the announcement that Maurkice Pouncey from the Florida Gators was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers number 18 overall during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City. Hatfield was able to make the draft pick annopncement through the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The National Football League is like no other league in the country.

As an entity, many have tried to copy the model of the NFL. The USFL failed miserably, as did the XFL.  The latest incarnation, the UFL, is bound for the same fate.

With talk that the NFL and NFLPA (NFL Players Association) have met to discuss the future of an "enhanced season," rumors of the NFL starting a developmental league has again been brought to our attention.

There are a few great reasons that the NFL should have a developmental league. Here are my reasons why it should be one of the main components in the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).

The Draft

The NFL had a new experiment this past year that worked out rather well. They hosted the NFL Draft in prime time, and it buried everything it went against; including the NBA playoffs!

That is right, more people watched the NFL Draft than the NBA Playoffs. Do you know what that means? Commercial time in next year's draft just went through the roof.

Now, instead of ending the draft of Saturday, the NFL can again steal the show on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

With teams needing to fill out an developmental roster, the NFL would have to expand the draft as well.  Why not do that on TV and steal advertising dollars from the NBA again?

The Teams

Each NFL team would have a developmental team that would play from two weeks after the draft, up until training camp starts. That would give each team plenty of time to evaluate their rookies and see who could contribute during the regular season.

They would have a regular season and playoffs.  In theory, the winning team would even be able to win a trophy at the "JV Super Bowl."

My suggested name of this trophy? The Goodell. (If Goodell is willing to give us football from the Draft until training camp, I have no problem naming the JV Trophy after him.)

Training Camp

All of the members of the developmental league would be included in their teams' training camps. The teams would still have to limit their rosters to 53, but all of the players that don't make it are either released, or assigned to the developmental team.

Regular Season

The players in the developmental league would be permitted to practice with each other, with five to ten "practice squad" players that can practice with the pro team.

If a player is injured, the team would be able to bring up one of the rookies to the active roster. When the player is no longer injured, the rookie could be moved back down.


All of the developmental players would be paid a set amount; the equivalent of what the practice squad players make.

Developmental players would not be permitted to sign with other teams during the regular season. Players would be able to be in the developmental league for a set amount of time, say five years. If that player is not moved to the active roster by then, he is free to sign with any team.

Teams would be able to include developmental players in trades, like the MLB does.

How does this benefit the NFLPA?

With 32 teams having an additional 40 players on their rosters, that is more players that are paying dues.

Also, veterans get to keep their jobs while that player develops as opposed to the current system which pushes veterans out of the league.

How does this benefit the owners?

Owners get the additional revenue from the commercials of the draft, as well as the extra ticket revenue from the additional games.

If you are a season ticket holder, you have to buy season tickets to the JV league as well.

DirecTV, CBS, NBC, FOX, and ESPN will all have to carry the games if they want to continue to be able to carry the NFL.

The networks would also be making a profit from the additional advertising time.

This is an ideal situation for the NFL, the NFLPA, the networks, and even the owners. It is what I consider a win/win/win.

Most of all, though, the fans would win, because we would be watching football right now instead of the World Cup.


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