XFL Season Recap: Will Jets sign Coan, Durant, others?
The XFL's 2023 season came to a close on Saturday night as the Arlington Renegades won an improbable title despite having gone just 4-6 in the regular season. The Renegades team, which featured ex-Jets TJ Barnes, Teton Saltes, Edmond Robinson and (on injured reserve) Aaron Adeoye upset the 10-1 DC Defenders 35-26 to claim the title.
NFL scouts have been watching closely and the situation now is that XFL players are eligible to sign with NFL teams from Monday.
Some players have already been invited to participate at rookie minicamps around the league, including quarterback Jack Coan and running back Mataeo Durant, who attended the Jets' minicamp last weekend. No signings were announced but this pair are not eligible to sign until tomorrow and the Jets do have a couple of open roster spots, so we could perhaps see one or both of them added in due course.
Neither of these players exactly lit up the stat sheet, so presumably they've been players the Jets were interested in already rather than just as a result of their XFL performances.
Coan, who also attended Seattle's rookie camp, only ended up with six touchdowns and six interceptions, but finished strong with consecutive 300-yard games. He completed 75 percent of his passes in those two games to elevate his completion percentage to 62.2 percent.
Durant averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and caught 11 passes for 78 yards. He only had one run of more than 10 yards in 41 carries. Durant ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Let's now recap how some ex-Jets fared and which other players stood out that could be of interest to NFL teams from tomorrow.
Two of the main success stories were wide receiver Deontay Burnett, who was second in the league with six touchdown catches and defensive back Luq Barcoo, who led the league with 11 passes defensed. These were the only two ex-Jets voted to the all-XFL team. Barcoo attended mini-camp with the Browns.
Some ex-Jets pass rushers had success but Tim Ward, who was second in the league with five sacks after five games, got hurt and missed most of the rest of the year. John Daka had 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Another ex-Jet, Brandon Silvers, was fifth in the league for passing yards and fourth in touchdown passes, but completed less than 60 percent of his passes.
Running back Kalen Ballage averaged less than three yards per carry and didn't play in the second half of the season.
Wide receiver KD Cannon only caught four passes, but three of these went for more than 40 yards so he proved to be a big-play threat.
On defense, Barnes played a role in the Renegades' championship as he played well and posted a sack in the title game. He had five tackles for loss, two sacks and a game clinching stop on a two-point conversion in the regular season.
Offensive lineman Derrick Kelly was ranked in the top 10 of PFF's rankings. He attended mini-camp with the Panthers.
Finally, Defensive tackle Freedom Akinmoladun was the only other ex-Jet to get a mini-camp invite. He attended rookie camp with both Miami and Kansas City.
Possible NFL targets
If a team is hoping to find a return man like KaVontae Turpin who came out of the USFL last year Will Likely is a candidate. He averaged 12.8 yards per punt return and also returned two fumbles for touchdowns.
At quarterback, Jordan Ta'amu was the offensive player of the year, Ben DiNucci led the league in passing yards and AJ McCarron led the league in touchdown passes and completion percentage. DiNucci attended rookie camp with the Broncos.
Jahcour Pearson was the league's most productive receiver with 60 catches for 670 yards in the regular season. Running back Abram Smith was the only player to rush for over 500 yards. He ended up with 791 and also rushed for a 52-yard touchdown in the title game.
Converted tight end Cody Latimer caught 50 passes, as did Hakeem Butler who is a former converted tight end that has now gone back to being a wide receiver. Butler got a mini-camp invitation from Pittsburgh.
On defense, Trent Harris lets the league with 9.5 sacks. Defensive backs Ajene Harris (five interceptions and a fumble return for a touchdown) and Michael Joseph (four interceptions, including two pick-sixes) showcased some playmaking abilities in the first half of the year. Harris was invited to Denver's rookie camp.
Finally, on special teams, linebacker Colin Schooler showed some good productivity with 14 tackles in kick coverage.