The XFL is set to kick off this weekend as Vince McMahon's league gets a second chance to prove itself as an alternate football league to the NFL. While the original XFL flamed out after one season in 2001, this version is focused more on the game than the entertainment value.
This version of the XFL doesn't have the star power throughout the league, even though there are plenty of familiar names at quarterback. The XFL had a unique system for quarterbacks before the draft, using a list of Tier 1 quarterback allocations prior to the eight teams selecting players from around the league. Not all the Tier 1 quarterbacks will be starters for Week 1 due to injuries, training camp battles, etc.
Here are the eight starting quarterbacks for the inaugural week of the reincarnation of the XFL:
Seattle Dragons at D.C. Defenders
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ABC
Dragons: Brandon Silvers
Silvers went undrafted in the NFL, but latched onto the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football last year. Silvers started two games for the Express, throwing for 799 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. A four-year starter at Troy, Silvers finished with 10,667 yards and 71 touchdowns.
Silvers beat out B.J. Daniels for the starting job as the two split the snaps in camp. He spent a short period of time with the New Orleans Saints (rookie minicamp) and New York Jets (spring minicamp), but was never in a NFL training camp.
Silvers is used to playing in an Air Raid offense, which makes a West Coast offensive scheme by head coach Jim Zorn an interesting fit. Quick passes will be the key for Silvers' success in the XFL.
Defenders: Cardale Jones
Jones is one of the more notable names in the XFL, one college football fans are very familiar with. A fourth-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2016, Jones was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers before the 2017 season for a seventh-round draft pick. Jones played just one game in the NFL, throwing just 11 passes. He also spent parts of 2019 on the Seattle Seahawks practice squad.
During his Ohio State career, Jones was 167 for 270 passing (61.9 completion percentage) for 2,323 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He added 617 career rushing yards and four touchdowns, leading the Buckeyes to the 2014 national championship.
Jones should have plenty of success in the XFL, based on his scrambling ability and the receivers at his disposal. Having Jhurell Pressley at running back should certainly help.
Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks
Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, Fox
Wildcats: Josh Johnson (questionable, thigh)
Johnson did not participate in the final practice, making him a game-time decision for the opener. A 12-year veteran, Johnson signed with the XFL and was assigned to the Wildcats in November. Johnson started three games for the Washington Redskins in 2018 after Alex Smith and Colt McCoy were lost for the season with injuries, and he completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 590 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions for a 69.4 passer rating. He spent the first half of the 2019 season as the Detroit Lions No. 2 quarterback before being released in October.
A fifth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson has played for 13 NFL teams, including two different stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals. He has also played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the defunct United Football League and was on the initial roster of the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football before signing with the Redskins. He has completed 55.2 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 33 career NFL games.
If Johnson is unable to go, Chad Kanoff would likely get the start. Kanoff spent time on the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squads over the past two years. The Princeton grad set the school record with 7,510 passing yards and won the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy league's Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.
Kanoff was traded to Los Angeles from the New York Guardians in January for Luis Perez, who was assigned as a Tier 1 quarterback to the Wildcats, after Johnson won the job.
Roughnecks: Philip Walker
Walker was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but has never played in an NFL regular-season game. He threw for 10,668 yards and 74 touchdowns in four seasons at Temple.
Walker won the job over Connor Cook, and playing in a June Jones' run-and-shoot offense should make up for his 5-foot-11 frame. Walker isn't afraid to test his arm strength, even though he may be on a short leash with Cook on deck.
Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians
Sunday, 2 p.m., Fox
Vipers: Aaron Murray
Murray was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft but has never taken a regular-season snap in the league. In his four years at Georgia, Murray threw for 13,166 yards, 121 touchdowns and 41 interceptions.
While Murray was a disappointment with the AAF's Atlanta Legends, he is expected to thrive in Marc Trestman's offense. Murray has demonstrated the ability to have a great feel in the pocket and explore all his options, not going to just his primary read. Murray being a pocket passer is a better fit for Tampa's offense than Quinton Flowers.
Guardians: Matt McGloin
McGloin beat out Luis Perez for the starting job after Perez was traded to New York, and he's a strong fit in head coach Kevin Gilbride's offense. McGloin can take command of an offense and isn't afraid to take the deep shot downfield, which the Guardians will try from time to time.
In his five-year NFL career, McGloin had a 1-6 record, completing 58.1 percent of his passes for 1,868 yards, 11 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 75.3 passer rating. He played four seasons with the Oakland Raiders before spending the 2017 preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In his senior season at Penn State under the tutelage of Bill O'Brien, McGloin threw for a school-record 3,271 passing yards with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. He led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record, the first season under NCAA sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
St. Louis Battlehawks at Dallas Renegades
Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
Battlehawks: Jordan Ta'amu
Undrafted in 2019, Ta'amu threw for 3,918 yards and 19 touchdowns at Ole Miss in 2018. He also rushed for 342 yards and six scores. Despite having D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown as his wide receivers, Ta'amu struggled with his decision making.
A faster-paced game should benefit Ta'amu, who could benefit in a hurry-up offense. He beat out Taylor Heinicke for the starting job.
Renegades: Landry Jones (questionable, knee)
Probably the most known name in the XFL (and the league's first player signed), Jones will be reunited with former college head coach Bob Stoops, who runs an Air Raid offense tailored to Jones. The Renegades will be pass-happy, which should suit the 30-year-old Jones well.
Jones, a former fourth-round pick, spent his first five NFL seasons in Pittsburgh. The Steelers released him just before the start of the 2018 regular season. He has a 3-2 career record as an NFL starting quarterback. In 19 games, he's completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 1,310 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Jones threw for 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns in four seasons at Oklahoma.
Jones has been battling a knee injury throughout training camp, which means Philip Nelson could be in line to start Week 1. Nelson completed 58.3 percent of his passes for the AAF's San Diego Fleet last year for 513 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.