Will they play for 35k?

Last week, I received a copy of a United Football League player contract for one of my clients. He’s a pretty good player who has four seasons in the NFL and was a backup on a good team behind some Pro Bowl players. Unfortunately, he never got a chance to compete for a starting job and was out of work for the 2008 season.

He, along with a few other clients, has expressed interest in playing in the UFL for what they’re hearing would be salaries of $50,000 to $100,000. Not bad for nine weeks of work.

What’s motivating my client and the other guys is not just the money but a chance to show NFL teams that they’ve still got it -- and the hope of being picked up late in the 2009 NFL season.

When the contract came, I was surprised to see that the base salary was only $35,000. My client was even more surprised since informal information coming from the UFL had touted higher salaries.

Another client, WR/PR Tim Dwight, was getting the itch to play again because a persistent toe injury had finally healed. He too was attracted to the UFL because of the talk of the higher salaries. I also had players tell me that some former NFL starting QBs were going to play. But once word got out that base salaries would be $35,000, the excitement waned.

I doubt now that Tim will play, but my other client has decided to give it a shot. I even encouraged him to do so.

As a fan, don’t underestimate the talent pool that the UFL can cherry pick off the street right now. Don’t forget that players like QB Kurt Warner and DE Stylez White were left for dead more than once by the NFL. As an agent, I’m excited that I can get a few guys some work.

I believe the UFL found the minimum threshold that guys will be willing to play for by matching the Arena League compensation level. However, I think it’s too low to attract the Tim Dwights who are still young and healthy enough to bring some excitement to a start-up league.

Some key dates and numbers in the contracts:

Base salary: $35,000. Punters, kickers, long snappers: $25,000.

Each team is permitted to sign a quarterback for an amount greater than $35,000.

Bonuses for top players are yet to be determined, but I was told it would be less than $10,000 per player.

Players on the championship team receive $5,000; losing players get $2,500.

Training camp: September 12-30. Regular-season kickoff: October 8.

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