Bill Belichick is an opportunist, and a new opportunity may have just presented itself to the New England Patriots head coach.
The XFL announced Thursday it has suspended its 2020 season, joining several professional sports leagues that have put their seasons on hold amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the fledgling league has told players they can sign with any interested NFL team immediately after completing exit physicals Friday.
The XFL has advised players they can sign immediately with teams in the NFL or any other league once their exit physicals are complete tomorrow, per sources. So for the stars — Josh Johnson, P.J. Walker, Jordan Ta’amu, et al. — a chance to land quickly.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 13, 2020
Of course, most of those players are in the XFL because NFL teams didn't want them, so it's unlikely a flood of XFL players latch on with NFL teams.
But Belichick's Patriots have had great success finding talent in unexpected places: Center David Andrews, running back Brandon Bolden and cornerback Malcolm Butler are among many undrafted free agents who have gone on to thrive in New England.
So, with NFL free agency beginning next week (we think), which XFL stars might the Patriots at least consider? Here's a brief list of players who were thriving before the XFL halted play:
Cam Phillips, wide receiver, Houston Roughnecks: The 24-year-old has been the XFL's top wideout by far, tallying a league-high 31 receptions for 455 yards and nine touchdowns through five games. The Patriots need wide receiver help, so perhaps they'd consider letting Phillips compete for a spot in training camp.
P.J. Walker, quarterback, Roughnecks: Phillips' QB has been lighting it up, too, with a league-high 1,338 passing yards to along with 15 touchdown passes, four interceptions and a 104.4 passer rating. Walker went undrafted out of Temple in 2017 and spent three seasons on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad behind ex-Patriot Jacoby Brissett. If Tom Brady leaves in free agency, New England might test the XFL quarterback waters, with Josh Johnson and Jordan Ta'amu also potentially drawing interest.
Donald Parham, tight end, Dallas Renegades: The Patriots have an obvious need at tight end, and while they may prefer more seasoned NFL talent, Parham is making a name for himself in the XFL. The 6-foot-8, 240-pound 22-year-old ranks third in the entire XFL in receiving yards (307) with four touchdowns in five games and may interest teams as big-bodied red zone target.
Cavon Walker, defensive tackle, New York Guardians: The 25-year-old leads the XFL in sacks with 4.5 in five games and also racked up five tackles for loss as a disruptive presence up front. If Danny Shelton (unrestricted free agent) and/or Adam Butler (restricted free agent) depart this offseason, the Patriots will need some depth at defensive tackle.