The XFL draws a lot of comparisons to the Alliance of American Football, and it’s easy to see why. The AAF was a start-up spring football league that garnered some excitement before they commenced play. The Alliance was unfortunately short lived, but the league did show that there was a market for spring football in the United States. The AAF did share a lot of similarities with the relaunching XFL, but also their share of differences.
One of those differences is their player salary structure. The AAF used a league-wide scale where each player signed a three-year contract worth $250K. However, the XFL is implementing something different. The XFL will be operating on a tiered salary structure. Their salary tiers are as follows:
Tier 1: Similar to the NFL’s “franchise” designation. This tier features a $250K-$600K salary, and each of the eight teams can apply this tier to one player.
Tier 2: Each team is able to apply this tier to three players. The salary ranges from $150K-$250K.
Tier 3: The majority of the players on each of these teams are likely to be Tier 3 players. Teams have 23 slots at this tier to assign to their players. The salary ranges from $70K-$100K.
Tier 4: This is the lowest tier on the salary structure. 18 Tier 4 contracts are available to XFL teams. The salary ranges from $50K-$70K.
There is one potentially huge advantage to this type of system. The XFL, unlike the NFL, doesn’t have to wait three years for a college player to sign. A XFL team could, theoretically, lure away a college sophomore with a Tier 4 contract. If you doubt that this is plausible, look at it this way. College players don’t receive a salary for their play. You can argue that their payment comes in the form of an education, but what if that college player either needs the money or isn’t on a scholarship?
The XFL could approach that player and offer him some sort of financial compensation. That player gets paid while keeping his dream of playing football at the highest levels alive. Sure, maybe that player isn’t exactly interested in a salary that low. They could still take that contract, then earn extra money through endorsement opportunities that previously weren’t an option.
There are still some other things to work out. We don’t know how performances will work out, or how NFL-out clauses will work. Will there be performance bonuses? How about signing bonus? What will the salary cap look like? How will practice squad contracts work with the league operating a centralized “9th team” farm team? Time will provide us with the answers to these questions.
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