The NY Jets could take advantage of the shortened XFL season and target these three standouts from the upstart football league.
The NY Jets and the rest of the NFL have been keeping a close eye on a number of XFL players following the cancelation of the remainder of the first-year league’s season.
At the moment, 14 former XFL players have signed on with new NFL teams. Some of the most noteworthy include Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker, St. Louis Battlehawks quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, and Dallas Renegades tight end Donald Parham.
Out of those 14, the Pittsburgh Steelers lead the way with a whopping six players signed while the Jets haven’t made any deals thus far. But with many months until the start of training camp, there is plenty of time for the team to do their due diligence.
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As we saw from the now-defunct AAF, some of these players could provide value.
San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Daniel Brunskill started a few games for the team in 2019 and could be a starter in 2020. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward hauled in 28 catches for 254 yards last season.
There is value to be found if teams look in the right place and the XFL should be proof of that once again this season.
With that, let’s take a look at three former XFL players the Jets should consider signing.
Next: 3. Matt McCrane
3. Matt McCrane, K
The Jets special teams unit has come a long way in the past few seasons. After ranking as one of the worst units in football for years, the Jets have consistently had one of the best special teams groups in the NFL over the past couple of seasons.
That trend continued in 2019 where the Jets had the No. 4 ranked special teams unit by Football Outsiders’ DVOA list. But while most of their units were strong, the team’s kicking game proved to be their biggest weakness.
McCrane kicked for the New York Guardians and made all eight of his field-goal attempts. But unlike many others in the league, the Kansas State product made both of his attempts from 50+ including a 53-yarder.
The 25-year-old has prior experience playing in the NFL too as he played for three separate teams in 2018 making eight of his 12 kicks.
McCrane is due another shot in the NFL after showing out in the XFL and the Jets could be an ideal landing spot for him.
Next: 2. Josh Johnson
2. Josh Johnson, QB
One of the more underrated needs on the Jets’ roster remains the backup quarterback position. Behind Sam Darnold, the Jets currently have 2018 fifth-rounder Mike White who has never played in an NFL game on the roster.
The Jets will likely bring in a veteran backup to provide stability behind Darnold and perhaps they could look to the XFL for that player.
Los Angeles Wildcats quarterback and NFL veteran Josh Johnson played well during his short time in the XFL. And unlike many other quarterbacks in that league, he has plenty of experience playing in the NFL — recently, in fact.
Johnson last played for the Washington Redskins in 2018 where he played in four games, starting three of them. Despite rumors that the Redskins were looking to bring him back as a backup, he instead decided to try his hand in the XFL.
A return to the NFL only makes sense at this point.
The Jets could sign Johnson, a veteran of the West Coast system, and have him compete for the backup job in the preseason. Perhaps the team could add another signal-caller in the draft or sign another one in free agency too.
But Johnson would be a worthwhile addition in the form of an experienced backup.
Next: 1. Cam Phillips
1. Cam Phillips, WR
This one just seems like a no-brainer.
The Jets are starved for receiver help at the moment following the departure of Robby Anderson and could look to one of the most promising receivers in the entire XFL.
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Houston Roughnecks wideout Cam Phillips tore it up in the XFL leading the league with 31 catches for 455 yards and nine touchdowns. That yardage mark was more than 100 yards higher than the next player while he scored more than double the touchdowns of any other player.
There was even talk of him being an MVP candidate by the year’s end.
At just 24-years-old, Phillips is an obvious signing for any team in need of receiver help. An undrafted free agent in 2018, Phillips originally signed on with the Buffalo Bills and spent most of the season on the practice squad appearing in just two games.
The following August, he was let go.
But the 2017 first-team All-ACC member is certainly drawing interest from NFL teams and is likely awaiting the best offer. Perhaps that could come from the Jets who are definitely in need of receiver help and could use an explosive, young playmaker on offense.
Phillips would likely slot in as their No. 4 or 5 receiver competing for a roster spot in training camp.
And Given everything we saw from him over the past couple of months, it would likely be worth the investment.