This weekend, 1,184 NFL players were let go from the 32 teams in the league. For every player playing this preseason, this is a chance for them to prove that they have what it takes to make a 53-man roster and make an impact on the league. What makes this cut period different from other years? The dream is not dead.
Thanks to the XFL starting play in February, players who were cut have a second to prove themselves and get another shot at continuing their football careers. We saw over 100 players from the AAF get signed to NFL teams after operations had closed in April. They got that shot because of how well they played in their time with the Alliance.
XFL officials met in Houston this weekend to keep track of all the cuts and determine who they should sign or invite to their XFL draft in October. I came up with five players that have impressed me to the point that Oliver Luck and the rest of the XFL should definitely reach out to about joining the league.
Karter Schult, DE – No doubt if Karter Schult was brought in by the XFL, he would be one of the most feared pass rushers in the league. He was one of the best defensive players in the AAF as he led the league with 49 quarterback pressures and third in sacks (7) and tackles for loss (11) in eight games with the Salt Lake Stallions. This past preseason with the Minnesota Vikings, he recorded 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 force fumble before being cut this past weekend. He has shown great strength and being able to beat offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. He possesses a high motor and shows great technique to get to the quarterback. This would be one player I would have on my list to add young talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Cardale Jones, QB – Cardale Jones has a rocket arm and with the proper training, can be a really good starting quarterback in the XFL. His story is incredible as it started at The Ohio State when he filled in for J.T. Barrett starting and winning the last three games of the 2014 season against Wisconsin (Big Ten Title Game), #1 Alabama (Playoff Semifinal), and Oregon (National Title). He would lose his job in the middle of the 2015 season to J.T. Barrett and decided to go to the NFL draft early. His NFL career has not been as great as he’s only played in one game playing for the Buffalo Bills and recently with the San Diego Chargers. His play improved this preseason with the Chargers as he completed 68% of his passes for 357 yards and two total touchdowns. He showed flashes of great QB play in the preseason, but with the proper coaching and development in the XFL, I can see Jones being a starter in the XFL day one.
Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, WR/Returner – This is too good of a story for the XFL to pass up on. He was homeless and sitting outside the Cleveland Browns facility prior to their tryout, was able to convince one of their employees that he knew someone in the front office and got his chance to prove himself. Not only did they sign him to the roster, but returned a punt for a touchdown in the first preseason game. You can’t make this stuff up. He possesses blazing speed, but didn’t really have many chances at proving himself as a receiver as he only had three total catches in five targets. He may need some more experience as a receiver, but as a return specialist, this guy could be the Dante Hall of the XFL. The XFL should look at him as a viable option.
Jayrone Elliott, Outside Linebacker – Another impressive pass rusher who dominated on defense in the AAF. In eight games with the San Antonio Commanders, he led the league with 7.5 sacks in eight games while also recording 18 tackles and four forced fumbles. His play helped lead the Commanders as one of the best defenses in the league and led the team to a 5-3 record. He also has plenty of NFL experience including three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, then bouncing around the league with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would make an immediate impact on the defensive side and would be an early candidate for defensive player of the year in the XFL. A no-brainer move for Oliver Luck to invite or sign him to the league.
Elliott Fry, K – He was one of the best kickers in the AAF as he has shown in the Alliance and this preseason that he is accurate, consistent, and has a leg on him. In 2019, he has not missed a field goal as he was 14 of 14 in field goals with the Orlando Apollos and was 4 for 4 with the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens in preseason including a 48 yard field goal made in the last preseason game. There is a good chance he gets called on if an injury happens in the NFL, but if there isn’t, the XFL should bring him on as he would be the best kicker in the league as he was proven his worth this year.
Honorable Mentions: Ethan Westbrooks (DE), Donnel Pumphrey (RB), Braxton Miller (WR), Sam Ficken (K), Jeremy McNichols (RB)
As a former morning sports anchor at KGNC 710 AM in Amarillo, TX and a former TV news reporter at KFDX in Wichita Falls, TX and KXII in Sherman, TX, I have a passion for all things sports (specifically football and basketball). The new look XFL got my attention as a spring football league that can work. I look forward to writing about all things XFL Dallas and covering it for the upcoming 2020 season.