Written By: Roy Countryman @Blitzalytics @PreacherBoyRoy
We are almost at the halfway point in the AAF season. There have been a number of quality matchups, and more importantly a lot of players who are grasping this second chance and running with it. You can also see the momentum of popularity building for this league by the buzz that was generated at the NFL Combine or by consistently seeing Jerry Jones wear his AAF colors with pride. This article has been something I have been researching and putting together to not only connect the dots with the NFL and AAF, but for the main purpose of where we see their relationship going in the future. There has been a lot of talk about expansion, which I believe will happen in the future, but for the purpose of this article we will stick to only worrying about the 8 franchises in existence.
We know that the AAF has stated on multiple occasions that is does not want to faceoff with the NFL, but rather be a complimentary and developmental league. We also know NFL front offices and league executives have openly pined for a place to allow players to get quality reps since NFL Europe shut down. They need a place to improve the bottom third of the rosters at the highest level, and even the practice squad players. So as we see with the leaders of the AAF and their long list of decorated resumes, in addition to an already established working relationship on the broadcasting side, it would only be natural to let that spill over to the player pool that the NFL could provide to help supplement the rosters in the AAF. There were two tweets that recently surfaced that show that there have been discussions going on behind the scenes on this exact matter.
Bill Polian suggested that the NFL may allow some young players under contract to NFL teams to play in the AAF next year to get additional experience- @ProFootballTalk
Polian & Moose Johnston on the possibility of NFL QBs (and OL) coming down to the AAF to get more development: “talks are ‘ramping up’ but nothing formal. Lots of "procedural hurdles" to make that happen.” An example used: if QB Mason Rudolph came down from the Steelers.- @BenKercheval
The AAF has already established a great brand of quality of football, especially when you look at the amounts of talented defensive backs, pass rushers, and linebackers. However, there are positions that have shown to be less than stellar; pass catchers, QB play, and the most glaring — offensive line. So if the NFL could commit to this league and acknowledge them as the accredited minor league partner of the NFL and get the backing of all 32 teams to help establish some sort of pipeline, the quality of play will take an even bigger step up.
Logistically, right now there are 8 AAF franchises, each with 52 man rosters, which puts the total players in the league at 416. So let's say that the AAF and NFL come to terms on an agreement where the NFL allows all 32 teams to allot 6 players to play in the AAF for that season. You instantly gain a ton of new viewers based on the fact that now fans from NFL franchises have a vested interest in watching to see if some of their younger and inexperienced players can take the next step. With the details of an agreement as stated above, that would provide 192 NFL caliber players into the fold. Each of the 8 teams would get 24 players allotted to them, which would make up approximately 46% of each of their roster size. This would still maintain the vision of this league by giving guys who have been overlooked or who need a second chance a shot at being contributors.
I am going to take this one step further and propose a way to really give the AAF an opportunity to be able to establish an event that the football world would most assuredly tune in for. An AAF Allotment Draft! We all know that currently any player that signs an AAF contract is subject to the allocation process. For those of you that don’t know how it works, here it is:
But rather than just allocating the new players based upon the system, why not introduce the AAF Allotment Draft. That way players that are coming, for example, from a system of a 3-4 as an OLB won’t get pigeonholed into an AAF team that only runs 4-3 concepts on defense. This would give teams a chance to best fill out their rosters and allow some creativity on the GMs for each AAF team. Additionally, you will create a vested interest for NFL teams to the success of all the teams, because their 6 players allocated may be on 6 different teams. Teams could also be allowed to trade picks. but they would have to be an equal amount of picks in the same year. We know this league already has an eye for out of the box thinking, and we have proof in that with the Inaugural AAF QB Protect or Pick Draft earlier this year.
Outline of an AAF Allotment Draft
24 Rounds (Don’t panic at that number remember only 8 teams)
Snake format (Same as the AAF QB Protect or Pick Draft)
Picks tradeable (Must trade equal amounts, No future picks)
The venue would be able to be moved for more interest
Why go through the hassle of a draft instead of straight allocation? Well, here is some food for thought: according to CBSsports.com, the NFL said that a total of 45.8 million people watched at least part of the draft. For context, that was more than last year’s Stanley Cup Final (4.7 million). Wherever the venue is placed, if it can gain some of the same traction of the NFL Draft, the host city sees between 5 and 10 million dollars in revenue. Even if they only get half as much profit it would be a financial success. They already have the working broadcast relationship with NFL Network that would allow them to broadcast an AAF Draft, as well as a host of qualified NFL Draft personalities such as Rich Eisen, Daniel Jeremiah, and Charles Davis, just to name a few.
Overall, with this concept, the AAF gains the interest of the casual football fan that tunes into the draft and the drama it provides. They also gain loyal and invested NFL fans because of the allotted players that could play on any of the 8 franchises, not just one team. Finally, there will be the continual development of NFL players without sacrificing the pillars on which this league was made in the first place.
Here is one way you can make sure that your NFL fans don’t lose sight of their players with the rest of the rostered players…
Finally, if the league eventually does expand, the number of players allocated to go into the draft would be altered in proportion to the number of franchises in existence.
And if you haven’t yet…