The XFL player draft, held October 15, had a whopping 71 rounds, during which eight teams filled out their rosters with a combined 568 guys. But a maximum of 567 of those guys will proceed to whatever the next stage of this project winds up being, after former University of Tennessee standout and recent Arizona Cardinals training camp castoff Corey Vereen dumped his new team upon learning that non-quarterbacks in the XFL will be paid roughly jack shit.
The salary details come via a report from ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, and they are grim. While quarterbacks in the league can make up to nearly $500,000 for a season of work, an average non-quarterback on an average team can expect to pull in somewhere around ten percent of that amount, and is only guaranteed a harrowing portion of even that:
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.
To put that in perspective, Vereen would’ve earned more than the XFL’s base weekly salary for every week that he spent in training camp this summer. Vereen’s agent, Logan Brown, announced Wednesday night that Vereen is making more—and probably much more!—in his current job as a software developer, and would therefore not be signing with the team that drafted him:
Vereen felt that the stunningly low pay offered to non-quarterbacks in the XFL’s salary structure qualifies as exploitation, a point he made clear to ESPN:
“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.”
This could be the start of a trend. Vereen is so far the first and only player to dump the XFL over pay issues, but he told Seifert there are “most definitely” other draftees considering the same move. But for a fair number of guys, the XFL’s dismal pay will represent their first or final opportunity to draw any real paycheck from football, after the NCAA’s forced amateurism took several of their prime playing years away for nothing. Many if not most of them won’t have solid fallback careers lined up to catch them, and therefore won’t have the luxury of following Vereen’s lead. The bodily destruction of football is a lot to take on for movie-theater-usher salary guarantees.