John Clayton raised the idea of creating a developmental league because players like Ryan Mallett and in the past Matt Flynn sat on the bench without getting much playing time. Read his four thoughts on the 3rd day here.
Guess he had a hard time coming up with his 5th thought.
My first thought on this is why it hasn’t happened sooner. I know that the NCAA is considered the developmental league for the NFL, but in all our years, have we never known the NFL to look to make a buck or two. MLB and it’s minor league system seems to coexist quite well with NCAA Baseball. Why can’t a minor league system for Pro Football do the same. A caveat. The NFL D-League has the same eligibility requirements as the NFL Draft.
With that said. Here is my idea for the NFL Developmental League.
16 teams. Each team shared by 2 teams from opposite conferences. The teams below make sense to share teams. I had some difficulty dividing the Bills, Patriots, Giants, and Jets since there are 3 AFC teams and only 1 NFC Team.
Dallas-Houston - team plays in San Antonio
San Diego-Arizona - team plays in Riverside, CA
Miami-Tampa Bay - team plays in Orlando
Atlanta-Tennessee - play in Memphis
Seattle-Denver - play in Salt Lake City
KC-St. Louis -Play in Springfield or Joplin
Pittsburgh-Philly - play in Harrisburg
Washington-Baltimore - play in Richmond or Arlington, VA
San Francisco-Oakland - play in San Jose or Sacramento
New Orleans-Jacksonville - play in Birmingham, AL
Green Bay - Buffalo - play in Toronto or Milwaukee.
For the below teams, not sure about what Northeast cities would be best to play in.
Carolina- NY Jets
New England Patriots – NY Giants
Or you could take the NFL money making to another level and alternate the games within each of the two teams stadiums.
10 games and you play your NFL divisional rivals. One bye week. Teams would be divided into four divisions; North, South, East, and West and play two games against each division opponent. Then they would alternate each year between the other divisions, playing 1 game each against one of the other 3 divisions.
Dal/Hou, NO/JAX, Mia/TB, ATL/TEN
SD/ARI, SF/OAK, DEN/SEA, KC/STL
GB/BUF, DET/CIN, CHI/CLE, MIN/IND
NE/NYG, CAR/NYJ, PHI/PITT, BAL/WAS
Teams can call up and send down players. Like the NHL, players can be signed to 1-way or 2-way contracts. 1 way meaning they can only go up. If you try to send a 1-way player down, the player must clear waivers before being placed on D-League Roster. 2 way contracted players do not have to go through waivers.
Each team can place no more than 25 players on the team and no fewer than 20 players on the team. Here is what the Roster will look like with distribution for each team.
1QB, 2RB, 1 FB, 2WR, 1 TE, 5 OL each
7 DL/LB (3 lineman and 4 LB or vice versa), 5 DB's, 1 kicker/punter
Top team from each division makes the playoffs, with 2 wild card teams. Top two teams get 1st round bye.
The difficulty in this idea is getting the teams to agree on the coaching staffs and what offense and defense they run. My thought, is that you have them run basic schemes like in the Senior Bowl. The idea is to give the player more playing time, not so much time in a system. The more they play the game the better they are. I think about all those UDFAs and 7th round picks who really don't have much of a shot to make the team. If we want to develop these kids for real, then let's create a league that they can practice, get coaching, and play in game situations. You think AJ McCarron is a good quarterback, but not sure of his ability at the next level. Give him some time in the minors and let him get more experience.
Now, one might argue that the quality of competition wouldn't be that good. It won't be as good as the NFL, for sure. But I think it would be better than college, because the guys being put on these teams are the best of the guys who aren't ready to land on an NFL roster yet. Raise your hand if you think Stephen McGee could have used some time on a developmental roster? What about Jamarcus Russell? I'm sure the Raiders, would have liked to see him get some more seasoning somewhere else before having to outright release the guy. Got a rookie who isn't playing well, send him down to get his confidence back. I know this is a long shot, after the NFL Europe shut down. But let's do this thing right and put it in the only place that cares about Football, 'Merica!!!