Monday, March 31st is the first day when XFL players can sign with NFL teams. The New York Jets have previously stated their intention to scout XFL players and Jets’ scouts have been spotted at multiple XFL games. As a result, it’s worth examining several XFL prospects who the Jets might be interested in.
Josh Johnson, Quarterback
Johnson is an NFL veteran who has played for 13 teams, and his experience showed in the XFL, where he was one of the best quarterbacks in the League. Despite missing Week 1 due to injury, Johnson had the second most passing yards in the XFL. Johnson demonstrated the ability to make NFL caliber throws multiple times a game and possesses a gunslinger mentality. Familiar with both west coast and spread schemes, Johnson is also a fiery leader. At 33, he is not a long-term solution at backup quarterback, but he could certainly challenge Trevor Siemian for QB2. One of the pros of signing Johnson is that, unlike other NFL backups, Johnson won’t command an expensive multi-year contract; in fact, it’s feasible that the Jets could sign him on a 1 year, $1-1.25 million contract.
Far and away the best wide receiver in the XFL, Cam Phillips was a dynamic deep threat who served as PJ Walker’s number one receiver. Phillips was a consistent producer in every game he played. Even during his worst statistical game, in which he only logged one catch for 9 yards, Phillips drew a 50 yard pass interference penalty that put the Roughnecks on their opponent’s five yard line. Stylistically, Phillips reminds me of a high-end Deontay Burnett. Burnett played with the Jets at the end of the 2018 season and during the 2019 preseason, generated adequate separation and was a consistent hands-catcher. That being said, Phillips displays significantly more play-strength and ability as a ball carrier. Projecting him to the NFL is difficult, but I think Phillips could be a solid WR4 or WR5 in the NFL and, for a team lacking WR depth, is a viable target.
Marquette King, Punter
A former Oakland Raider and Denver Bronco, King was one of the best special teams players in the XFL, leading the League with an average of 45.7 yards per punt. King gained social media fame as a result of his attention-grabbing celebrations after impressive punts. With Punter Lac Edwards testing the open market, King is a viable pivot for the Jets. Signing King would allow the Jets to fill a positional need without wasting a draft pick or a significant amount of money.