Hurts vs. Kyler, Mailbag
Talking the business of sports
The rebranded USFL pulled off something the AAF and XFL could not: a successful spring season. It was the one-loss Birmingham Stallions who hoisted the hardware earlier this month, as they defeated the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL championship, 33-30. While the Stallions didn’t have the USFL MVP, the Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year or Coach of the Year, Skip Holtz put together arguably the most talented roster in the league.
If there’s anything we learned from the past few months, it’s that there’s talent not rostered in the NFL. From defensive linemen to even kickers, the USFL showcased some impressive players who NFL teams are intrigued by.
Below, we will break down each USFL-to-NFL signing that has been reported this offseason.
Sam was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots out of Arizona State back in 2018, but never played in a regular-season game. He spent time on the practice squads of three other NFL franchises afterwards. Sam was actually drafted by the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits, but was released and then claimed by the Breakers. According to the USFL’s press release, the Texas native recorded 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss and an interception in nine games played for the Breakers.
Zuber went undrafted in 2020 after playing college football at Kansas State and Mississippi State, but did get a chance with the Patriots. He played four games in his rookie season, catching two passes for 29 yards and rushing twice for 21 yards. However, Zuber was waived the next preseason before bouncing around a few practice squads. With the Gamblers this season, Zuber led all USFL players with five receiving touchdowns and led Houston with 322 receiving yards on 22 catches.
A Florida International product, Brown signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2020. However, he actually quickly retired, saying he fell out of love with playing. Brown then returned to football and recorded 16 tackles and two interceptions for the Breakers this past season.
Bolden, who had short stints in the NFL with the 49ers, Bills and Lions, proved to be a valuable piece in the Stallions’ offense, totaling 42 receptions for 415 yards and one touchdown. Those reception totals were the third highest in the league, while his receiving yards ranked fourth. Bolden capped off his productive season with an MVP performance in the USFL title game win over the Philadelphia Stars.
Pharms recorded 31 tackles and two sacks for the Maulers this season, per CBS News. He played his college ball at Friends University.
Costin went undrafted out of Miami University in 2020, but caught on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 13 games played with nine starts over two seasons, he recorded 33 combined tackles and three tackles for loss. Costin spent most of the 2021 season on the practice squad, and actually later spent a week on the Cincinnati Bengals‘ practice squad in January.
Undrafted out of Michigan, the 27-year-old Stribling has spent time with the practice squads of a handful of NFL teams. While he played in just seven USFL games due to injuries, he led the league in interceptions with seven.
Neal actually spent time with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2019, but was cut. He played his college ball at Division II Shepherd University.
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