The XFL will begin issuing invitations this week to draft-eligible players, a significant step in fielding an eight-team football league that will begin play in February 2020.
Most of the invited players will be culled from eight showcase events the league held this summer, featuring on-field work that was similar to the NFL combine. XFL commissioner Oliver Luck did not reveal specific names, but said the "vast majority" of this week's invitees have already spent time in professional football at some level, be it the CFL, AAF or the NFL.
Participants in the showcase events included NFL veterans such as running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Landry Jones and defensive end Kony Ealy.
"It's difficult to put together a composite guy that will be an XFL player," Luck said. "But each of them will have a unique story. In some cases, they were in a bad spot. Maybe they were a fifth-round NFL draft pick but ended up on a team with four or five really good running backs. They're all players that we believe can play quality football."
The XFL will send out draft invitations in installments to account for pending NFL roster cuts. A total of about 800 will be distributed, Luck said. Players who express interest will be subject to a background check prior to the XFL draft in October. Each team will draft 70 players. There will be no free agency, Luck said, as the league office will control distribution of any players who become available after the draft.
The XFL remains open to adding college underclassmen who are not yet eligible to play in the NFL, which prohibits teams from acquiring players who are less than three years removed from high school. Such players will need to contact the XFL after their college seasons to request eligibility for distribution to a team.
"We would review them just like we would any player," Luck said.
The XFL has scheduled a minicamp for December, followed by a three-week centralized training camp in January. The season will begin Feb. 8. Games will be televised on ABC, ESPN and Fox. The league, owned and financed by WWE founder and chairman Vince McMahon, has pledged to reimagine the game with an emphasis on a fast pace and innovation of traditional approaches to overtime, extra points and other conventions.