DC Defenders

Quarterback P.J. Walker to sign with Panthers, become first XFL player to join NFL team

Quarterback P.J. Walker to sign with Panthers, become first XFL player to join NFL team

One of the benefits to the XFL was giving players a chance to audition for an opportunity in the NFL. The coronavirus pandemic cut those auditions short, though, and the XFL season ended after just five games. 

Quarterback P.J. Walker was one player who thrived during those five weeks, leading the Houston Roughnecks to a 5-0 record behind league-leading marks in passing yards (1,338) and touchdown passes (15).

New Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, who coached Walker for four seasons at Temple from 2013 to 2016, apparently couldn't help but take notice of his former signal-caller. Walker confirmed to ESPN Monday that he will sign with Carolina. 

Walker becomes the first player from the rebooted XFL league to join an NFL squad. The former Temple standout joins a quarterback room with Teddy Bridgewater, who agreed to terms with the Panthers last week to replace Cam Newton as the team's starting quarterback. 

During his college career with Rhule, Walker rewrote record books with the Owls. Walker is Temple's all-time leader in yards (10,668), touchdowns (74) and completions (830), and he led the program to 28 wins over four seasons as a starter.

His success ultimately helped Rhule land a job at Baylor. Now, Rhule is repaying the favor with an NFL gig for Walker. 

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Tight end Khari Lee becomes first DC Defenders player to sign with an NFL team

Tight end Khari Lee becomes first DC Defenders player to sign with an NFL team

Former DC Defenders tight end Khari Lee has a new home.

The 28-year-old has agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, the club announced on Wednesday.

As a member of the Defenders, Lee started all five games. He totaled just eight receptions for 91 yards on the season, with two of his catches resulting in touchdowns.

The tight end was on the receiving end of the Defenders' first offensive touchdown in franchise history, a 39-yard pass flea-flicker from Cardale Jones. The Defenders would go on to win their inaugural contest against the Seattle Dragons, 31-19.

This is not Lee's first NFL stint; he's spent time with Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills. He's played in 34 career games and has two receptions for 12 yards on his career.

Lee is the first member of the Defenders to sign an NFL contract.

The XFL was forced to cancel the remainder of their season due to the coronavirus pandemic, ending the relaunched league just five weeks in. However, several former XFL players have since signed contracts with NFL teams, and that number keeps growing.

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Here are the XFL players that have signed with NFL teams

Here are the XFL players that have signed with NFL teams

Like almost every major professional sports league across the world, the XFL had to come to a halt earlier this month due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Although the inaugural season of the relaunched XFL lasted just five weeks, the league had its fair share of stars. Once the league officially canceled the remainder of the season last week, the XFL allowed their players to sign NFL contracts starting Monday, March 23.

Here are all the XFL players that have since joined an NFL club.

P.J. Walker, QB, Houston Roughnecks

To no surprise, Walker was the first XFL player to sign an NFL contract, inking a two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers on Monday. By joining the Panthers, Walker reunited with his former head coach from the University of Temple, Matt Rhule.

Walker was the biggest star in the XFL's first season. The 5-foot-11 signal-caller led the league in passing yards (1,338) and touchdown passes (15) while leading the Roughnecks to an undefeated 5-0 record. With Cam Newton and Kyle Allen no longer in Carolina, Walker will likely battle with Will Grier for the backup job behind newly-signed QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Jordan Ta'amu, QB, St. Louis Battlehawks

Walker grabbed all the headlines, but Ta'amu was a star in his own right. The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have inked Ta'amu to a one-year deal, where he'll compete with longtime NFL veteran Chad Henne for the backup role behind Patrick Mahomes.

Ta'amu led the Battlehawks to a 3-2 record and was the XFL's leader in passer rating (82.8) and completion percentage (72.4%) and third with 1,050 yards passing. Ta'amu was undrafted in 2019 out of Ole Miss and spent time with the Houston Texans during training camp before playing in the XFL.

Deatrick Nichols, DB, Houston Roughnecks

Nichols, the XFL's interception leader, has agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, the team announced on Tuesday. The 25-year-old has NFL experience before, as he played six games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 after being undrafted from the University of South Florida. 

Dravon Askew-Henry, DB, New York Guardians

The cousin of longtime New York Jets standout has reportedly signed a two-year deal with the New York Giants, according to NFL Networks Ian Rapoport. Prior to the XFL, Askew-Henry was a standout for the University of West Virginia.

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