XFL draftee won't play because of low pay

The XFL’s pay scale is prompting at least some recently drafted players to reconsider whether to join the new football league. Former University of Tennessee defensive end Corey Vereen became the first to announce a reversal, saying he is making more money as a software developer than he would have in the XFL during its inaugural season.

The XFL informed agents a week before its Oct. 15-16 draft that non-quarterbacks would receive $2,080 every two weeks they are under contract, for a max base salary of $27,040 for the season. There are $1,685 bonuses for being on an active game-day roster and another $2,222 for players on the winning team. A player who is active for all 10 games and is on a team that goes 5-5 would earn $55,000 for the season.

Quarterbacks will be paid more, up to nearly $500,000 for the season. Vereen said in a telephone interview that the league’s pay scale for all other players was much lower than he expected after receiving a salary that would have reached $70,000 in the Alliance of American Football if the now-defunct lead had finished its spring season. Vereen said he passed on offers from the CFL, and accepted a commissioner’s invitation to the XFL draft, based on a presumption of higher salaries.

The XFL, which declined comment, never publicized salary figures prior to the draft. Commissioner Oliver Luck said in the spring that the AAF had erred with “one size fits all” contracts and added: “We think we can be a little bit more selective and pay at the upper level some significant six-figure sums and then have a number of different levels.”

Vereen, who spent training camp in 2017 with the New England Patriots, led the AAF’s Memphis Express with four sacks in 2019. He was drafted by the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats but informed the club this week that he would not sign a contract.

“How are you going to sit here and get all these people together and try to get the best talent for your league and pay them $27,000?” Vereen said. “I love the game. But I’m not going to be taken advantage of at the end of the day. I have an engineering degree. I’m a software developer. My current job makes more than that. I’m not doing that, unfortunately. It looked like a great opportunity.”

Asked if he was aware of other players mulling a similar decision, Vereen said, “Most definitely.”

The XFL drafted 568 players from a 1,000-player pool for the initial draft. It plans a supplemental draft near Thanksgiving to account for newly eligible players, as well as some players who currently are in college. Players have a Dec. 3 deadline for signing contracts in order to participate in minicamps. There will be a three-week training camp in January and games will begin Feb. 8.

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