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NFL got 2,000 applications to veteran combine, one guy signed

Quarterback Brady Quinn warms up before the NFL veterans combine football workout, Sunday, March 22, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


Well, no one can say yesterday’s veteran combine was a meaningless affair.

OK, they probably still will, but it at least generated a transaction.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Cardinals have signed wide receiver Nathan Slaughter, the first player to make it out of the morass that was the event at the Cardinals facility.

The league dragged 105 players in to work in front of a handful of General Managers, and a bunch of bored-looking scouts and position coaches. As a collection of talent, it was largely what you’d expect from guys not quite up to being a part of the 2,880 roster spots the NFL current has available.

Of course, it could have been an even bigger sideshow.

After the Michael Sam portion of the circus was over yesterday, NFL director of football development Matt Birk said the 105 names picked were actually the cream of the crop.

Birk said they received around 2,000 applications, meaning they rejected around 1,900. He didn’t say (and frankly, I forgot to ask) if the league refunded the $400 application fee for those not selected, or whether that money paid for the extra cameras needed to make the Sam documentary the league televised last night.

That incredible number of hopefuls shows the event may find a future, even if no one’s quite sure what it’s going to look like.

Birk said that after talking to teams, the preference was to lean toward younger players with less experience, and no game tape to grade. But there were a number of older veterans there like quarterback Brady Quinn, along with defensive linemen Adam Carriker and Jamaal Anderson, guys who were coming off injuries that were thought to have ended their careers.

Birk said the league didn’t put players through physicals as part of this weekend’s process, allowing teams to bring in players for their own examinations if they looked good enough to merit a plane ticket.

Birk also wouldn’t bite when asked if quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Vince Young were part of the unchosen 1,900, saying “We’re only going to talk about the guys that are here, that’s the route we decided to take.”

In the end, the signing of a guy like Slaughter won’t move the needle, or change the way NFL teams scout fringe players.

If anything, the number of guys rejected, and the class of players who weren’t, might be most effective for thinning the herd, and convincing a lot of guys to give up the dream.