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Report: NFL to stage developmental games in New Zealand

A confusing report emerged over the weekend regarding the NFL’s ongoing plan for world domination. It involves the NFL going to New Zealand. But it apparently doesn’t involve the NFL’s best players making the trek.

According to the Sunday Star Times (via SportsBusiness Daily), a weekend publication based in Auckland, the NFL will stage a pair of exhibition contests in New Zealand later this year. But it won’t be a pair of preseason games; instead, squads reportedly will be selected from the players who fail to make the final 53-man rosters of six NFL teams, including the Cowboys, 49ers, and Cardinals.

This approach could mean that a pair of New Zealand rugby stars -- Jarred Hayne of the 49ers and Paul Lasike of the Cardinals -- could be among the players returning to play American football.

Plenty of details are unclear (including the names of the teams), and the article has some factual inaccuracies, including an assertion that the players for the New Zealand games will be picked by two “high-profile” coaches "[o]nce the final 53-man rosters for the 2015-16 season . . . are confirmed in late July” (it actually happens in early September) and a claim that the Dallas Cowboys “have about 300 players on their books” (the offseason limit is 90).

It’s also unclear how the opportunity to play what essentially will be developmental games in New Zealand will mesh with a player’s ability to accept an offer to join another NFL team, given the inevitable churning that occurs at the bottom of NFL rosters after the final 53-man squads are set. Will, for example, a quarterback who agrees to play in New Zealand be allowed to bail on the commitment if/when an offer to sign with another NFL team emerges? Will players on practice squads be eligible to play in New Zealand?

After catching wind of the Sunday Star Times article over the weekend, PFT asked the league office for comment on the reported plan; no response was received. The decision of the folks at SportsBusiness Daily to include the item in the Monday edition of the weekday morning feature known as the “Opening Bell” prompted PFT to share this intriguing-but-incomplete news with this audience.

We’ll keep trying to provide more complete details. That should happen by Wednesday at the latest, when according to the Sunday Star Times the plan will be officially announced at a press conference in New Zealand.