The USFL held its draft the last 2 days for the resumption of the league which will now work on experimental items for the NFL (the XFL did this in an unofficial capacity in both of the league’s ideations). The league is set to begin on Saturday April 16th, 2022, when the New Jersey Generals visit the Birmingham Stallions (7:30 ET NBC/FOX) at Protective Stadium in Birmingham.
The league will actually play the entirety of the regular season in Birmingham, with the Divisional Championships being played June 25th followed by the Championship game played July 3rd all postseason games will be played at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, OH. The site of the postseason and championship games is interesting on the surface since it is in the stadium that has been renovated by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The assumption by many, including by who was born across the street from the stadium, is that the NFL owns and operates the stadium but the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a separate entity. The relationship between the USFL and the NFL seems like a mutually profitable embrace between the two leagues and will force quickly competition or compliance when XFL returns in 2023.
The draft featured featured rounds by positions over two days, which was an interesting format. Former Michigan & Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson was selected 1st overall by the Michigan Panthers. The league has announced that teams in between the draft and the beginning of camp in the season will have a chance to add 10 additional players and during the draft the league also announced that they will be hosting a Supplemental Draft in March, when players may make themselves available for a spot on a USFL roster. Players in the USFL can expect to make $45,000 for the year, which does not include training camp pay and win bonuses. That salary estimate is well below both the NFL league minimum and many of the contracts in the much more well-established Canadian Football League, but does allow players to continue to play 11-man football under familiar American football rules and theoretically would open opportunities for players to advance to the best football league that there is, the NFL.
Teams in the 2022 USFL (Championship odds listed by covers.com)
- Michigan Panthers (+325)
- Tampa Bay Bandits (+450)
- Philadelphia Stars (+500)
- New Jersey Generals (+550)
- Houston Gamblers (+600)
- Birmingham Stallions (+600)
- Pittsburgh Maulers (+600)
- New Orleans Breakers (+650)
The best prop bet in recent memory also is the “completed season” bet covers.com has “yes” (-550) and “no” (+350)
While non-NFL professional football has had a dubious history, especially recently, the USFL & their admission as a secondary league, with very modest salaries, seems to feel different than the XFL & the AAFL, which both had disastrous fates recently.