The XFL is set to start the weekend following the Super Bowl, granting diehard football fans more pigskin to watch and hold themselves over until the 2023 NFL season kicks off. Once considered a failed startup football league after its first debut in 2001, the XFL proved to be mildly successful in its 2020 reboot until COVID came along and shut everything down.
Now, three years later, the spring football league is back again, and this time, (hopefully) no global pandemic is going to stop them. If you decide to tune in and give it a shot, you may see a few familiar faces on the rosters. Here are a few former Bengals that will be playing in the XFL this season.
Former Bengals playing in the XFL
The most notable former Bengal you'll see playing in the XFL is A.J. McCarron, who is most known for stepping up for the injured Andy Dalton-- who was in the midst of his best season as a pro-- in 2015 and playing valiantly in the Red Rifle's absence. In three games, McCarron led the Bengals to a 2-1 record and completed 66% of his passes for 854 yards with a 6:2 TD-INT ratio.
Now, McCarron is on the St. Louis Battlehawks' roster, presumably as QB1. Due to his NFL experience and the fact that he was actually a pretty decent backup for Cincy, I could see McCarron being one of the top quarterbacks in this league and he'll be paired with another former Bengal at running back in Brian Hill.
If you don't recognize that name, don't worry, you probably aren't the only one. Hill spent most of his young career with the Falcons and that was the only team he ever rushed for over 100 yards in a season for. He was only in Cincinnati for just six games and only recorded 11 rushes for 37 yards in that six-game span. However, he is still a former Bengal so he is worth mentioning.
As for the most recent Bengal playing in the XFL, that title goes to a much more familiar name in Jordan Evans, currently signed with the Seattle Sea Dragons, who was on the Bengals' roster as recently as just last year. Oddly enough, Josh Gordon-- yes, that Josh Gordon-- is also on the Sea Dragons, which made me do a double take when I saw his name on the roster list.
But this entry is about Jordan Evans, who was drafted by the Bengals in the sixth round of the 2017 draft. If you were a fan before the Burrow-Chase days, which I assume would be most of you reading this, you probably recognize this name. Evans was more of a plug-and-play type of linebacker, putting him in on certain plays or when someone got banged up.
His best season for the Bengals was in 2018-- just his second year in the league-- when he recorded 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and three passes defended. He was never great or even good, but he was a solid depth piece for Cincinnati that could end up making some noise in the spring football league. Maybe.
Finally, likely the most obscure player on this list, Josh Malone. Malone was a wide receiver out of Tennessee who was drafted by Cincy in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. I'm not sure why, but I always thought he was going to break out and become a good or even solid WR3 alongside Green and Boyd/Lafell. Obviously, that didn't happen.
In his four years in the NFL, he never broke 100 career receiving yards, coming just short at 91, with 75 of those coming in his first two years, which were both with the Bengals. Now, Malone is playing for the D.C Defenders and, if the final 51-man rosters they released are to be treated like depth charts, he currently sits at the very bottom of the receiving room.
So those are the former Bengals playing in the XFL, at least from what I could find. Do any names surprise you to hear? And who do you think will do the best?