Why Not a NFL Developmental League?

Why does one of the biggest sports in the United States not have a developmental league? Both the MLB and NBA have their own systems of developing players who are not quite ready for the big leagues.

These leagues give players a chance to develop and prove themselves worthy of the big league after a successful college career. They are connected to a specific franchise and can be called up at any time to get some time in the pros.

For example, the Indiana Pacers are the “parent” team of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. At any point, the Pacers can send down or bring up players such as Georges Niang, Rakeem Christmas, Joe Young, Glenn Robinson III and more.

This gives these young players a chance to master their craft in a game format instead of constantly practicing against Paul George and sitting the bench at 7:00.

The baseball development leagues are even bigger. There are three levels to the development league (A, AA and AAA). Locally, the Indianapolis Indians are associated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Again, they can be called up at any moment and prove their worth.

And if they aren’t called up? They still play a comparable schedule to the MLB/NBA and make decent money.

So why not a NFL Development League? Let’s call it NDFL

On average, there are 12,650 Division I College Football players. Of those players, there are roughly 4,000-6,000 players that are eligible to be drafted.

There are 7 rounds in the NFL Draft. Of those eligible, only 256 players can be drafted.

Of course, there are undrafted free agents. Some of the best were at one point undrafted. Adam Vinatieri, James Harrison, Arian Foster, etc.

But still.. There are at least 3,500 players that are told to move on with their lives and give up what they have known for the past 15 years.

Remember this is only Division I Football… I won’t dive into and add the numbers from Division II and so on.

I know life can’t always be fun and games, and I strongly encourage athletes to look at life after sports… but there should still be an opportunity for these athletes.

Not only is it an opportunity for these athletes, but it could bring in some $$$$$$ for Mr. Goodell and the NFL.


NDFL Proposal

Let’s just start with 10 teams and go from there.

Step 1


St. Louis, Oklahoma, Utah, Myrtle Beach, Mississippi, Iowa, Vermont, New Mexico, Kentucky, Wyoming

I chose these locations based on the NFL cities map. Each of these locations is near a NFL team, but not close enough to attend multiple games a year (comfortably).

This will give residents of these cities an opportunity to witness some professional football on a weekly basis in the fall.

More jerseys, concession purchases, tickets, etc. = More Money

Step 2


Each team receives 50 roster spots. Slightly more than the NFL roster for game day.

10 teams x 50 spots = 500 players

Each team has a staff of 15-20 coaches.

15-20 coaches x 10 teams = 150-200 coaches

Plus cheerleaders, concession workers, security, etc.

Idealistically, this sounds like it is could give more than just players a chance.

Step 3


NFL Games are typically only available 3 times a week. Monday Night Football is awful and Thursday Night is fun Week 1. So in reality, NFL is enjoyed one time a week.

NDFL will play games on Wednesday’s. Gives us fans some humpday entertainment.

12 Week Schedule with a four team postseason comparable to the College Football Playoffs.



As good as this sounds to me, this is still a stretch. Football is becoming less popular with the growing concerns of long-term injuries. Which could affect participation from the players

These selected cities may not have the money or demand to build a football stadium and attend weekly games there. But there is always the opportunity to play at an established stadium whether it be a former NFL stadium (St. Louis) or a local college stadium.

I still strongly believe that these college athletes should be given an opportunity to master their craft in a game format. I am not sure how much you can grow as a player if JJ Watt is dominating you every single practice and then watching the game from home on Sunday.

According to USA Today, there is a developmental league in the works, but is seen more as an alternative to college instead of a chance for after college.

So keep your hopes up… I would love for this to happen.


Categories: College and Pro, College Talk, Pro's with O, The Pros

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