XFL/CFL Merger Speculation: How Will The Leagues Handle Talent Management?

Latest Speculation on the Talks Between the CFL and XFL

Since the news broke in March that the CFL and XFL were talking about a possible partnership, the rumors have been running wild. A few months later, we know about as much as we did when the announcement was made. The XFL is on the sidelines for 2021, with the 2022 season on hold until discussions are complete. On the CFL side, the league is hoping to return August 5th, but Covid restrictions could alter their plans.

Many fans are getting angsty about the talks between the two leagues. Some are hoping for a full-on merger, and others want the talks to stop as soon as possible. Either way you look at it, both leagues are in a place where they could use some assistance.

In today’s 3DownNation Monday Mailbag, John Hodge answers a message from a CFL fan asking about the CFL-XFL talks, and wondered if it was less about a merger and more about creating a development league.

I wonder if we have these CFL-XFL talks all wrong. What if they’re talking less about a merger, and more about a developmental league-style agreement?

This is just me spitballing, but say the XFL is looking at its last two failures and the AAF and thinking, “Look, this is never going to work if we just sign NFL castoffs and college dropouts. We need actual talent throughout our rosters and a development pipeline if we’re going to pull this off.”

So into the picture comes the CFL, who already have the market largely cornered on Canadian talent, lots of players just a cut below NFL quality, and have spent the last few years developing relationships with other leagues worldwide. Thoughts?

-Brian Pike

Thanks for the question, Brian.

I’m sure the XFL would love to poach some of the CFL’s top talent — especially at the quarterback position — but they could do so without a merger. All they’d have to do is offer a handful of exorbitant contracts.

The CFL and XFL are talking about a full-blown merger. For better or worse, you can take that to the bank.

The problem with spring football in the United States has never been a lack of talent — it’s getting American fans to care about brand new franchises when most have lifelong allegiances to teams in the NFL and NCAA.

Many have started to worry about the lack of news coming from either of the leagues. If you ask me, this is to be expected. When it comes to any partnership, let alone a possible merger, things need to be as tight-lipped as possible. Any news leak could be the demise of the discussions. As is such, in these scenarios, everyone is obligated to a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

If the CFL is unable to play this season, they will be in a far worse financial situation than they already are. The dark horse that we never hear about in any of this is RedBird Capital. Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson are key figure-heads, but RedBird is looking to build upon their success so far and would not invest in the XFL had they not had a plan in place to make money.

As the world slowly starts to return to normal, we may see a new football league rise from the ashes. Some think that whatever comes out of these discussions will be a new league, with a unified rule book and a new name. Once we know more, we’ll keep you posted.

What do you think the outcome of the CFL/XFL discussions will be? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.

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  1. There is one thing that many people forget…one (if not the main) reason that the XFL was successful this go round: sports betting! As long as they’re is some action and a chance to make some doe, folks will watch.

  2. The XFL has had two ill fated attempts to succeed. The CFL, in one form or another has been around for a century.
    To hell with a merger killing something that is one of the few identifiable CANADIAN institutions around.
    Selling out our national league to have yet anothet American rules NFL wannabe league is a bad idea.
    It won’t work.

  3. I think the big problem was that once it was announced they were talking to each other, everybody’s imaginations started running wild (brother). I honestly do not see anything besides maybe a post season champion vs champion game, in terms of direct interaction. I think more likely will be the support network being shared between the two.
    TV deals, advertisements, marketing, merchandise, betting, development of players, trades, coaching etc. It’s a win win win to do this at least for five years. The XFL gets a big established older brother. The CFL gets some much needed funding. The XFL fans finally get more games. The CFL fans get to keep the CFL that they love.

  4. It doesn’t make business sense to use the US Canadian border as the dividing line between the leagues. Why have a league with Seattle and BC Lions and not have those two teams play twice a year? Or BC play LA twice a year? A Seattle, LA, BC Lions, Portland OR conference would be a great set of rivalries and you want to flush that because of a border between two now independent shards of the British Empire? Travel costs alone would dictate a cross border league. MLS, NBA, NHL, MLB all do cross border play. Why fly MTL or TOR to BC when there are a batch of teams a few hundred miles across the border? Same with flying DC and NY out to LA or Seattle –

    Also what sense does it make to have MTL, TOR and the Ticats all play each other three times a year regular season and then once again in the playoffs? If you have twenty teams you have a much deeper library of broadcast content for both sides of the border. Every week you would have at least two must see TV games. Pretty sure that most Canadian fans would rather watch their team play another team from the other conference rather than cycle through the ones they have already played a couple of times before.

  5. I was a ticket holder for the Baltimore Entry into the CFL when it came to the US in the 1990’s. The American teams that survived dominated because they did have to give roster spots to a lot of Canadian players. Would that rule be lifted? IF now how could this be a viable single league?

  6. Yeah the cfl is 100 years old. But. Could. Not. Get on the field to play 2020 and begging the Canada government. For 30million dollars miss me with that. Bullshit.can you big head cfl diehard. Your league is dieing. It broke the younger Canadian. It not feeling. Your. League. Your all been. Losing money’s. For years.your player, owners,gm ,talk radio know. This but cfl diehard is in a fucking fantasy get. Your. Head out your ass the game is changing. You got to change. With time that why the in nfl is so successes

  7. From what I can see, the US fans (XFL) fans are happy about the merger. They would be happy to see NFL/XFL vs CFL. As you say cross border games would be great. Even down south. How fun would it be to see say the Raptors or Condors in Mexico against Arizona Cardinals or Houston Texans.
    Ultimately the whole Expanded XFL and CFL merger could become more of a North South split rather than West and East.

  8. I think CFL just needs more teams; fourteen or so to avoid having to play the same teams three or four times per year. Put new teams in London, Halifax, Quebec City, Kitchener, and Victoria and watch the league thrive. This would also reduce travel expenses for the existing teams.

  9. This can work: 24/7 tv-web access and sports-betting changes the landscape. Selective/Regional cross-play with “home-field rules” would make it even more interactive (I.e. XFL rules on an American field & CFL rules on a Canadian field). Imagine how that would impact Vegas-wagering…

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