NFL head of football operations Troy Vincent is getting ready to propose changes that would start the process of the league having a “minors” like a developmental league or in-season academy, according to Jason La Canfora. Vincent will start going to work on the league by talking to the Competition Committee, coaches, and NFLPA after the season. The two GMs who are named as working closest with Vincent on the matter may also be polar opposites according to Seattle Seahawks fans: John Schneider of the Seahawks, and Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts.
It has been more than a decade since any sort of discussion regarding a developmental league was held at the Competition Committee level, committee co-chair Rich McKay told me at the last spring meeting. But with the support of numerous owners and prominent coaches the issue has gained significant momentum this year. It was a focal point of Vincent's work -- with him working closely with general managers like John Schneider (Seattle) and Ryan Grigson (Indianapolis) on designing plans -- and it also has been a special project for former longtime coach Tom Coughlin, who joined the league office this year. This project is deeply supported by Hall of Fame coach John Madden, who continues to consult for the league on such matters.
An in-season academy may work in a way that allows players who get cut to stay within the league getting training until a team is ready for them to sign and come help them midseason, going until November. That’s obviously something that would be highly interesting to Schneider and Pete Carroll, two execs notorious for churning the back end of the roster throughout the season.
It’s unclear what a developmental league could like, though it would probably be a spring league like NFL Europe was before it went defunct. The biggest logistics issue (that I can think of) with any “minors” during the season that teams still need 10 practice squad players. That’s 320+ players who aren’t “in” the NFL but are needed by the NFL. Where do they go if they need minor league players during the season?
Even more interesting, and probably highly unlikely, would be any system that allows players to skip college and go straight to the league. Again, I really doubt this would happen, but given the amount of talented players who have to go to junior colleges for academic reasons and the number who have to transfer for those reasons, or just the fact of the matter that thousands of kids are generating billions of dollars that they’ll never see, or that they’re risking their careers with injury for no money, or that Alabama is recruiting every good player anyway (just kidding but seriously) a different option other than college might be fair one day, right?
We don’t know much about the proposal yet, but it sounds like we’ll know a lot of exciting information by next spring.