NFL In Need of a D-League


Jul 25, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin arrives at training camp at the Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Philadelphia Eagles free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is going to tryout for the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. Maclin tore his ACL during training camp last summer and was lost for the year.

It’s unlikely he will actually participate in the open tryout for the team, but it does present an intriguing idea that has been bantered about since the end of NFL Europa, and that’ forming a developmental league. It would be for fringe roster players who need the kind development they may not get in NFL training camps when veterans and players with more roster security are getting more reps in practice.

It could also be for players like Maclin who are recovering from injury and want to show perspective teams that they’re fully-healed and deserving of a bigger contract.

The original D-League of the NFL was NFL Europe, which was founded in 1991 and was backed by the NFL as a spring developmental league for players looking to latch onto NFL rosters.

Unfortunately, the league folded in 2007, and since then there’s not been a pro football league that had it’s season occur in the spring, allowing players to go from that league to an NFL training camp that summer.

In other words, if a player wants to make it onto an NFL roster, he has to train during the offseason and only get to participate in full-speed football once NFL training camp opens.

There’s not enough time for him to play in another pro league like the AFL, UFL or CFL, which all take place over the summer and into the NFL season.

There needs to be some kind of pro football league in the spring in order to give NFL hopefuls a chance to play organized football in the offseason in hopes of fine-tuning their abilities and ultimately enter an NFL training camp already in football shape and ready to compete for a roster spot.

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