The Super Bowl ends, and football fans enter purgatory until April's NFL Draft and the summer training camp. For the first time since August, America's most popular sport is shelved in favor of NBA playoff pushes, the chaos of college basketball's March Madness, and for some, the beginning of another long baseball season.
There's a huge gap to fill. Spring football leagues like the Alliance of American Football (AAF) tried and failed to take up this mantle, mainly because the league wasn't properly built or financed. The XFL has had a long and winding history, and it was last launched in 2020 until the coronavirus pandemic halted it. But in August 2020, an ownership group led by former WWE superstar and international box office behemoth Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson called "Alpha Acquico, LLC" purchased the league for $15 million. Now, Dwayne Johnson's ex-wife, Dany Garcia, serves as CEO and Chairwoman.
Whether new version of the XFL turns to gold like everything else he touches remains to be seen, but the league kicked off its season on Feb. 18, 2023, with eight teams across the country: the Vegas Vipers, Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians, Houston Roughnecks, St. Louis Battlehawks, San Antonio Brahmas, Seattle Sea Dragons and D.C. Defenders. The games were broadcast on ESPN and ABC, after the XFL came to terms on a five-year deal last year for exclusive broadcasting rights. Will the lack of a New York or Los Angeles team hurt the league in the long run? Will be see the league challenge the major NFL franchises in Texas? Only time will tell, we sitll have to crown a winner in the XFL 2023 championship game.
You'll recognize a lot of the players in the XFL, too. Former NFL wide receiver Josh Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013, is on the Sea Dragons. Throw in Vic Beasley, Martavis Bryant, AJ McCarron, Ben DiNucci and a plethora of other former NFL players and college standouts, and you've got yourself some real talent. Even some of the head coaches are notable names, like Arlington's Bob Stoops, Houston's Wade Phillips and San Antonio's Hines Ward.
There's a lot of talent getting another shot at pro football, but how much money will these guys, some of whom played in the NFL for stretches, pocket when it's all said and done?
How Much Are XFL Player Salaries?
XFL players will take home some nice paychecks for their services. Each player will make $5,000 per week and another $1,000 bonus for each win, per ESPN. Considering the regular season is 10 games long, not including playoffs, players are estimated to earn roughly $60,000. The XFL also pays players a generous benefits package that includes housing valued at $20,000. It isn't known whether players will earn more money for playoff wins.
For comparison, the USFL will pay a minimum weekly salary of $5,350 in 2023, a jump from $4,500. The CFL reportedly pays a minimum salary of $70,000. The NFL is in a universe of its own, though, because practice squad players make a minimum of $12,000 a week on NFL teams and minimum salaries for active players are $750,000.
Each XFL team consists of 51 players, which means the league pays out roughly $2 million per week to the 408 total players.
How Much Did XFL Players Make in 2020?
So, how do those numbers compare to the league's COVID-shortened 2020 season?
According to an XFL contract from 2020 obtained by Pro Football Talk, XFL players used to make a decent chunk of change for only playing a short XFL season.
The XFL's non-negotiable agreement paid players $1,040 in base salary every week, which translates into a $27,040 gross payment. The contract outlined that XFL players earn another $1,685 for each game played, plus a $2,222 weekly win bonus paid to every active roster member on the winning team. All this added up to be an estimated average salary around $55,000 for every player. Not too different from The Rock's XFL player salaries.
However, the former XFL paid quarterbacks a heftier price tag.
According to Yahoo Sports, the league's top quarterbacks—like former NFL players like Landry Jones and Cardale Jones—were expected to earn around $495,000 in 2020. It isn't known whether the current version of the XFL is paying quarterback anywhere near that number, but it wouldn't be surprising if the league's signal callers made more money than other players.
Without a player's union in place to negotiate contracts and raises, it's take it or leave it for XFL players. But for most players hoping for one final shot, what choice do they really have?
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