The Alliance of American Football is positioning themselves to be a true developmental league for the NFL. The NFL hasn’t had a true developmental league since the owners financed NFL Europe. With hundreds of players being cut by NFL teams every fall, those players don’t have a place to showcase their skills. The AAF will allow those players to showcase their skills and hopefully make their way to the NFL. Just like players who have never played a down in the NFL, there are also players who have reached the NFL that are trying to make their way back.
Former NFL Players Looking to Use Alliance of American Football as a Springboard
Recently, LWOS has spotlighted Alliance of American Football quarterbacks and even general managers who are looking to make their way back or to the NFL. But to go along with these executives and quarterbacks, there are also some other recognizable former NFL players who will be participating in the AAF’s inaugural season. Here are some of those non-quarterback former NFL players who you might recognize. We have broken this list down by team.
Will Sutton is no stranger to playing in the desert heat of Arizona. Sutton played his college football at Arizona State. After playing for the Sun Devils, he was selected in the third round by the Chicago Bears. He played three seasons, 2014-2016, as a defensive lineman for the Bears. Sutton battled injuries throughout his Bears career. He played in 36 games, starting 18 of them.
Another former Sun Devil who will be lining up with Sutton on the Hotshots defense is Carl Bradford. Like with Sutton, Bradford never played up to his draft status. Selected in the 2014 NFL Draft in the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers, Bradford struggled. He was a very productive pass rusher at Arizona State. In his three-year college career, Bradford had 21.5 sacks. Unfortunately, that production never carried over to his NFL career. While with the Packers, he never registered a sack and was eventually moved to inside linebacker.
Out of all the former NFL players listed in this article, Stephen Hill might be the second most recognizable name. In 2012, Hill was selected by the New York Jets in the second round of the NFL draft. The Jets were hoping that the 6’4” wide receiver would be as productive as another Georgia Tech wide receiver, Calvin Johnson. But Hill never came close to producing like Johnson. Hill played two seasons for the Jets. Combined for those two seasons, Hill caught 45 passes for 594 yards with four touchdowns.
Joining Hill on the Legends will be former Stanford All-American safety, Ed Reynolds. After his standout career at Stanford, he was selected in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Reynolds played three seasons in the NFL, two in Philadelphia and one with the Cleveland Browns. His most productive season came with the Browns. That season he started seven games, registering 40 combined tackles and one sack.
If Hill is the second most recognizable former NFL player on this list that means running back Trent Richardson is the most recognizable name. Richardson was a former third overall pick by the Browns in 2012. His most productive season came in his rookie campaign. That season, he rushed for 950 yards and had 11 rushing touchdowns. He played just two seasons in Cleveland before being shipped to the Indianapolis Colts. He played two seasons for the Colts, where he combined for 977 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. The former University of Alabama product last played professionally in the Canadian Football League. With the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he played four games, totally 259 rushing yards and just two rushing touchdowns.
Tight end Weslye Saunders will be lining up with Richardson on the Iron’s offense this season. As an undrafted free agent, Saunders played combined four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Colts. In his four year NFL career, he had ten receptions for 90 yards with one receiving touchdown.
After a very productive career at Vanderbilt University, running back Zac Stacy was selected in the fifth round by the then St. Louis Rams. In his rookie season, Stacy ran for 973 yards with seven rushing touchdowns. His status as the starter lasted until they selected running back Todd Gurley. He requested a trade due to the selection of Gurley and was shipped to the Jets. He played in just one season with the Jets, rushing for just 89 yards and one touchdown.
On this list of former NFL players, Brad Wing is our only punter. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Wing played for the Steelers and the New York Giants.
Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier will have wide receiver Charles Johnson as one of his receivers. Johnson was originally drafted by the Packers in the seventh round. He went on to play three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. His most productive season with the Vikings was in 2014. That season, he caught 31 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns.
Joining the Apollos defense will be former high school All-American Ronald Powell. After a very illustrious high school career, Powell would go on to play defense for the Florida Gators. Like many on this list, Powell’s high school and college careers didn’t carry over to the NFL level. He played for the New Orleans Saints in 2014 and registered just two tackles. Powell has played both linebacker and defensive end.
Salt Lake City Stallions
Running back Matt Asiata joins our list of former NFL players that might catch your eye. The former running back from the University of Utah is well known to Vikings fans. He played five seasons for the Vikings, spending time on special teams as well as their goal-line running back. His best season came in 2014 when he rushed for 570 yards and nine touchdowns. In his five seasons with the Vikings, he had 18 rushing touchdowns.
San Antonio Commanders
Joining our list of former NFL players is another former Packer. Jayrone Elliott was a standout special teams player for the Packers from 2014-2016. Many Packers fans were hoping that Elliott could carry that special teams production over to rushing the quarterback as an outside linebacker. But that never materialized. His best season as a pass rusher came in 2015 when he had three sacks and one interception.
Running back Daryl Richardson is another former Rams player joining this list. Richardson, a former seventh-round pick, had his most productive NFL season back in 2012 for the Rams. That season, he ran for 475 yards.
San Diego Fleet
The Fleet have a trio of former NFL players that might ring a bell to NFL fans. The first is tight end, Gavin Escobar. Escobar was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Although physically gifted, standing 6’6” tall, Escobar never made his mark in the Cowboys offense. His most productive season came in 2014 when he caught nine passes for 105 yards with four touchdowns. His position coach for the Fleet will be former NFL tight end, Anthony Becht. The Fleet are hoping Becht can help Escobar reach his potential.
Another offensive weapon for Fleet head coach Mike Martz‘s offense will be running back Bishop Sankey. Out of the University of Washington, Sankey was selected in the second round by the Tennessee Titans. Sankey played two seasons for the Titans. His best season, which came in his rookie campaign, was in 2014 when he started nine games, rushed for 569 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
While Escobar and Sankey will be starring on the Fleet’s offense, Damontre Moore will be shoring up the Fleet’s defensive line. Moore is a former third-round selection of the Giants. Moore has played for five NFL teams. His best season came in 2014 for the Giants. That season, he chalked up five and a half sacks for the Giants.