Could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers one day identify or tag certain players to an Alliance of American Football (AAF) affiliate for developmental play in the NFL off-season? If AAF co-founder Bill Polian has his way, it certainly seems possible.
Talking with USA Today recently, Polian commented about the possibility of the two leagues partnering in some fashion, saying,
“The talk is ramping up - I’ll say that.”
While those words alone may not seem all that impactful, the fact the two leagues are talking, and that talks are ‘ramping up’ is big by itself.
Right now, the idea seems to be centered around players who don’t take a whole lot of physical abuse in the regular season. Guys like third-string quarterbacks and practice squad players.
Of course, one player specifically comes to mind when thinking of how this ties to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it’s quarterback Ryan Griffin.
The Bucs are entering a season where they’re in search of a back-up quarterback for Jameis Winston and prefer a veteran who won’t immediately cause conflict in the locker room about who the starter should be.
Griffin has been in the league for six seasons, so he meets the veteran status in that light, but he’s yet to take a single regular season snap. Turning 30-years old, teams have no indication of what Griffin might do were he to be thrust into regular season play suddenly following the injury to a starting quarterback.
While the AAF is not the NFL, having seen Griffin play two or three or six seasons as a starting AAF quarterback would let teams see what he might bring to the table. So, for guys like Griffin this system would work beautifully.
Of course, we’ve yet to hear what active coaches think, as well as owners, players and the NFLPA. My initial thought turns to the fact the AAF season is 60% as long as the NFL season. So in my mind, players who took fewer than 30% of their teams snaps would be eligible while players who took more than 30% would be exempt.
This would be one step towards protecting players from compounding physical damage by making them play significant snaps in both the NFL and AAF. Of course, follow on criteria could and likely would be applied.
In the meantime, Polian isn’t promising anything, saying,
“There are lots of procedural hurdles that have to be crossed before you could make that happen.”
But Polian’s new league is off to a promising start, and if anyone knows how to navigate the NFL waters among the owners and executives it’s Polian. So the fact there are even talks at all is encouraging when looking towards the future.
Is creating a minor league system between the AAF and NFL a good idea?
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