UFL faces reality

Last week I wrote about the UFL and their $150,000 transfer fee. My sense was that it was hard enough -- without the transfer fee -- for UFL players to join NFL rosters at this point in the season after a full season in the UFL. After being both a general manager in the World League and in the front office with the Packers, I have seen countless players unable to make NFL teams after playing in other leagues due to "dead legs". Adding a prohibitive transfer fee of $150,000 added another barrier of entry to the NFL for UFL players.

UFL Commissioner Michael Huygue told me what he wanted to believe: that NFL teams would pay what they needed to pay to garner talent, that the goal of the UFL was not to be a feeder league for the NFL, and of the success stories from last year (mostly kickers). Well, that was with no transfer fee. NFL teams have balked and the UFL has sliced it dramatically to $25,000, 16% of the prior fee.

Huygue is looking for the accurate price point for his players to move the NFL at this late stage of the season. A former executive with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Huygue knows teams spend millions on scouting. However, the timing of the transfer fee -- in the last quarter of the season when players legs are tired -- combined with the amount doomed its fate.

The other factor at play here is the factor at play with every financial decision made by NFL teams this year. With the labor uncertainty of an expiring collective bargaining agreement and teams reeling in their player payrolls in preparation for the next system, a $150,000 fee on top of salaries has turned off many NFL teams. A couple of general managers have told me that it is the wrong year to charge that fee. In another year, perhaps it would not be a deterrent. But this year is simply different.

Doing business with the UFL just got a lot cheaper. We'll see if it leads to more business getting done.

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