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XFL Subjects Players to NFL-Style Meat Grinder for 89% Less Salary

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:09 PM
Travis Pulver
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:09 PM

The latest incarnation of a secondary pro football league, the XFL, is scheduled to play following the end of the NFL season.

The key question on everyone’s mind is whether it will be better than the the last attempt — the now-defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF). The answer depends on how quickly the coaching staff of each team can get their guys playing well.

But we do know one thing. It doesn’t pay to play in the XFL.

Well—at least not like it does in the NFL or even the former AAF. The average salary is expected to be just $55,000. With the potential for short and long-term damage being as great as it is in football, is $55K worth it?

How Much Will Everyone Make?

The salary structure  has four tiers to it. In the first will be the guys that are the equivalent to what the NFL calls ‘franchise’ players—mostly quarterbacks. They will get a minimum of $250,000 and as much as $600,000.

Tier Two will consist of just three types of guys that will make $150,000 to $175,000; think marquee running backs, wide receivers and stud pass rushers. But the bulk of every team’s 46-player active roster (23 players) will fall under Tier Three and make $70,000 to $100,000. Everyone else (18 guys) will fall under Tier Four and make at least $50K and possibly as much as $70,000.

But what’s interesting about the salaries is how they are structured. Base pay will be $1,040 a week, paid bi-weekly from Dec. 4 through May 31. However, if you are active on game day, you get a $1,685 bonus. If your team wins, you get another bonus of $2,222. So, if you are not a superstar but dress every week for a team that goes .500, you’ll make around $55,000.

The Other Leagues

League minimum in the NFL this season is $495,000. Guys on the practice squad make $8,000 a week ($136,000 for the season). In the Canadian Football League (CFL) , the minimum this season is just $54,000 Canadian (which comes out to $40,933 U.S dollars); that number will be going up to $65,000 next season ($49,271). The average pay is around $80,000 ($60,642).

The AAF even paid their guys better than the XFL with everyone signing three-year deals worth $250,000. But the short-lived league was wracked with financial issues from the start, leading to its eventual demise.

Back in 2001, the original XFL  paid everyone a base of $45,000 with a $100,000 pool for winning games. Like the soon to be reincarnated league, there were playoff and championship bonuses.


By controlling its cost early on, the XFL is looking to weather the storm that comes with being a sports startup. But the internet trolls on Twitter only saw the negative—it’s a hard game, and it doesn’t pay. Former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman was one of the many that chimed in on Twitter with his opinion:


But some spoke out in support of the XFL:

Will it Work?

For a college kid looking to make something now rather than wait for the NFL to pay him, the XFL could be an option. Since the XFL is not going to try to stop anyone from signing with the NFL once the XFL season is done, there will be no roadblocks.

Plus, they can cash in now on endorsements and appearances.

So, could this attempt at a second professional football league work? It all depends on the product the XFL puts on the field. Football fans will watch good football games no matter who is playing.