XFL

Could Patriots sign any XFL players after league suspends play?

Could Patriots sign any XFL players after league suspends play?

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.

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.

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That 617 Life Podcast: XFL is back, is there room for more football?

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NBC Sports Boston photo

That 617 Life Podcast: XFL is back, is there room for more football?

Did you get a chance to check out the new-look XFL over the weekend?

If so, you were treated to some pretty entertaining football games. The league looks to be off to a promising start. But does it have staying power this time around, or is it destined to fail like the Alliance of American Football did last year?

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, hosts Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster and Cerrone Battle weighed the XFL's pros and cons, and whether they believe it will even last. 

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Battle started things off, noting he came away impressed with the overall presentation of the games.

I checked it out and I was engaged. I was locked in. At first, I thought it would be a casual 'let me just peek in and see what it looks like.' But I'll tell you, the first thing I noticed when I first turned it on, for some reason it looked like pro football. And I wasn't expecting that.

You know, you can turn on a game and you'll be like is that high school? Is that college? The old XFL, it just looked different. When I turned this on it was like oh that's a football game. The presentation was clear, the camera angles, the crowd shockingly was there and they were engaged.

Irvin was pleasantly surprised by the number of talented ex-NFLers taking the field for the new league.

I was scared there was going to be people like you and me rolling out of bed, getting into shape in like three to six months, and then show up there. I really thought that, and I don't mean no disrespect to semi-pro players around the way, but I thought it was going to be more of that and not these former players and Division I players getting in there and doing their thing.

Foster made it unanimous as she was on board with the product that was shown over the weekend, but she is cautiously optimistic about where the league will go from here and whether it will be around for the long haul.

I was personally impressed by it. But you all know, the XFL was really made just for entertainment purposes but also to give guys who have been trying to get into the league an opportunity to shine so they can get back into the league. Or, guys who never really made it to the league and give them another opportunity to get another look.

I don't know, do I think it's going to last? It's still kind of early ... we're probably just going to have to check it out and wait and see.

Along with the XFL talk, the crew also discusses what other leagues can do to create more engaging content for their fans and whether teams should embrace their players using social media. Click here to listen and subscribe.

Here are the ex-Patriots, Boston College players who made XFL rosters

Here are the ex-Patriots, Boston College players who made XFL rosters

Professional football won't end after Super Bowl Sunday this year.

The rebooted XFL kicks off its 2020 season on the weekend of Saturday, Feb. 8, as eight teams will compete over a 10-week regular season.

Each team is limited to a 52-man roster, meaning clubs had to make significant cuts after carrying 71 players out of the first inaugural XFL Draft in October.

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Several of those roster casualties were former Patriots players, as Marquis Flowers, Sterling Moore and Sealver Siliga were among those released over the past few months.

The XFL teams announced their final 52-man rosters Monday, though, and there still are four ex-Patriots players to watch. Here's the list:

Nick Brossette, running back, D.C. Defenders
Brossette was a preseason standout for the Patriots in 2019, rushing for 200 yards on 65 carries with three touchdowns over four preseason games. He failed to make New England's 53-man roster and signed on with the Detroit Lions' practice squad in September 2019.

Scooby Wright, linebacker, D.C. Defenders
Wright was Brossette's teammate in New England during the 2019 preseason, recording two sacks in one preseason. He was released following final roster cuts and briefly was on the Patriots' practice squad before they cut ties with him on Oct. 1.

Steve Beauharnais, linebacker, St. Louis BattleHawks
The Patriots selected Beauharnais 235th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, and the Rutgers product appeared in two games for New England that season. He signed with the Washington Redskins the following season.

Kony Ealy, defensive end, Houston Roughnecks
The most notable name on this list, Ealy was traded to the Patriots in March 2017 after three productive seasons with the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots released him August, after which the New York Jets scooped him up off waivers.

If you're seeking another local connection, three Boston College alums landed on XFL rosters: New York Guardians center Ian Silberman, Roughnecks linebacker Ty Schwab and Roughnecks running back Andre Williams, who won the Doak Walker Award in 2013 as college football's top running back and went on to play for the New York Giants.

Williams, Schwab and Ealy will be in action at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 8 in Houston's game against the Los Angeles Wildcats.