It’s no secret the Ottawa Redblacks quarterback depth was tested this season when they were forced to play the majority of the 2023 season with a man who began the year on the practice squad as the QB4. We watched as Jeremiah Masoli, and Tyrie Adams both suffered season ending injuries while Nick Arbuckle played his way out of a job. Dustin Crum came in and looked promising but looked limited in the passing game at times.
The Redblacks moved on at offensive coordinator from one coach known for developing quarterbacks to another in Tommy Condell. Condell worked with Masoli in the past so the strong likelihood is Masoli will once again be expected to start in 2024. However the work at quarterback isn’t done there. With Tyrie Adams returning from injury, Dustin Crum headed into his third year in the CFL, and Tyrell Pigrome, the Redblacks could use a quarterback with some more experience under his belt on the roster. Whether that is Nick Arbuckle or one of the names listed below, we will see.
Seattle Sea Dragons
The Sea Dragons built by Randy Mueller, and Jim Haslett had the only quarterback room in the XFL that saw all three quarterbacks who ended the year on their roster receive NFL interest. Ben Dinucci is now with the Denver Broncos, Steven Montez had a workout from the 49ers, and Harrison Frost worked out with the Saints at their rookie minicamp. Neither Montez or Frost signed contracts, but it now appears they will also lose their XFL team to the merge.
Frost was particularly intriguing because he was signed by the XFL while being NFL Draft eligible. Frost intelligently saw where he sat in terms of draft stock, and chose to go to the XFL, earn some money, and continue to develop under June Jones. Over his last two college seasons Frost lit it up at University of West Georgia. He completed 62% of his passes, threw for 6,730 yards, 50 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions.
Frost is now heading into year two having shown that he has the ability to perform at a high level in college, and he had a season to adapt to the pro game. Having spent his offseason coaching, and having a desire to pursue coaching in his future I am unsure if Frost would pursue the CFL as his next option. There are ways for him to coach, and play in a league like the CFL, it just might come at the Arena Football level. Honestly not a terrible way to spend your career. It’s clear to me Frost is a football junky, so whether it’s coaching or playing we will see him in the sport.
Steven Montez is one of those borderline NFL quarterbacks who has had several teams show interest but hasn’t signed an NFL contract since the end of 2022 when he spent time with Detroit. Montez is a guy who I believe who not only will see interest in the CFL, he might thrive in this version of the game. The reality for Montez is he needs to be able to get in game reps to prove he can live up to his potential. Signing with Ottawa would be a good way for the NFL/XFL veteran to continue his career. Montez is mobile enough to run a lot of the same designed runs we saw with Crum but might also be a more polished passer.
The quarterback room the Vegas Vipers initially announced/inferred was QB1 Bryan Scott, QB2 Luis Perez, and QB3 Jalan McClendon it looked nothing like the one that finished the season; QB1 Jalan McClendon, QB2 Brett Hundley, QB3 D’Angelo Fulford. However that doesn’t mean there isn’t talent to be had here.
Jalan McClendon has been a question mark basically since he left high school. After being ranked the 15th QB Nationally in the 2014 recruiting class, McClendon more or less faded into the background at NC State. Playing primarily as a backup, he was used in running situations similar to the way CFL teams use their short yardage specialists. In three seasons with the school, McClendon appeared in 21 games rushing 46 times for 223 yards, and 2 touchdowns while attempting 47 passes, for 262 yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 interceptions. After 2017, he opted to transfer to Baylor.
In 2018 he appeared in 9 games, attempting 91 passes for 715 yards, 3 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, adding 34 carries for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. Having entered high school as a 5’9 option quarterback, he graduated college a 6’5 prototype for modern pro-style offenses. This garnered him interest from Baltimore and Washington in 2019. At the time Baltimore was searching for mobile quarterbacks to back up Lamar Jackson. They ended up keeping RGIII, and Trace McSorley. Washington had Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, and Dwayne Haskins at the time.
Ultimately McClendon wouldn’t find his next opportunity until the XFL returned in 2020. Drafted by the Los Angeles Wildcats led by Director of Player Personnel Joey Clinkscales. Three years later they would repeat the process this time with the Vipers. Again Clinkscales drafted both Luis Perez and Jalan McClendon. McClendon would begin the season right where he left off in 2020 buried on the depth chart. However eventually he climbed his way up the depth chart as AGAIN Clinkscales traded away Perez.
If McClendon’s Vipers go away they may have at the very least served to reignite McClendon’s outdoor career. Starting four games he managed 67 completions on 112 attempts for 873 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also showcased his patented mobility, with 30 carries for 137 yards. Showing promise in this small sample size should be enough to peak a CFL team’s curiosity even if it’s just as a short yardage option. He will turn 29 during the 2024 season, so it’s now or never for McClendon.
Brett Hundley was a late addition to the Vipers roster and at one point was supposedly the highest paid quarterback in the league. If that’s the case, Vegas certainly went all in and lost the house. While Hundley didn’t throw an interception he barely completed half his passes, and averaged nearly as many yards per carry as he did per pass attempt. (6.3-7.2)
Hundley managed to complete 37 of 69 passes for 496 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Ironically, Hundley and Geronimo Allison played together in Green Bay for three seasons, but outside of Allison it seemed Hundley struggled to get on the same page with other wide receivers. He would ultimately get benched in favor of McClendon.
Fulford is a very interesting player. Having attended small school University of Mount Union, the 6’2 210 pound gunslinger looked like a phenom on the field. Seeing the field in all four seasons but starting only three, Fulford still managed an unbelievable 154 total touchdowns in just 45 games, an average of 3.4 touchdowns per game for four seasons.
It all began in his first year as a starter when he threw a jaw-dropping 50 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, while adding 8 rushing touchdowns. He collected a total of just over 3,500 yards. Over his next two seasons as a starter he managed another 80 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions, keeping an asinine 10:1 touchdown to interception ratio throughout college. He would amass a total of 10,800 yards while in school.
Coming out of college in 2020 completely derailed any hope Fulford had of the NFL as a rookie. After the CFL returned in 2021 the BC Lions showed some interest signing Fulford. He was released in final cuts, but the team opted to sign Shea Patterson to their practice squad for 2021. Fulford was again left to mull his options. With 2022 quickly approaching, Fulford was signed by Terry Shea and the Major League of Football’s Virgina Armada before the league fell apart. This again left Fulford without a home. He would dabble in the National Arena League with the Orlando Predators but it wasn’t for him.
Eventually 2023 rolled around, and Fulford finally found some momentum. Fulford signed with the Bay Area Panthers of the Indoor Football League where he was expected to serve as Dalton Sneed’s backup. This was short lived, as the Vipers came calling on April 4th signing Fulford just after week three of the IFL season. Fulford to that point had not appeared in a game. He would go on to not appear in an XFL game either but he gained invaluable experience in both occasions. He could certainly see some more interest from a CFL team, and rightfully so. This young man just needs a chance to play much like McClendon.
This room is an interesting mix of young quarterbacks and veterans. Deondre Francois, Quinten Dormady, and Todd Centeio are the three quarterbacks currently under contract with the team. Francois was the original starter before losing his job to Dormady. Dormady then had to face accusations of cheating that saw him released, re-signed, and cleared of the allegations, only to end up the starting QB.
Dormady had an interesting college career playing at three different schools, bouncing on and off the bench before graduating in 2020 arguably the worst season he could have come out. With no pro-days, or combine, or even rookie mini-camps it was nearly impossible for UDFA’s to make an NFL roster. This left Dormady on the outside looking in for 2020.
In late December of 2020 the Montreal Alouettes signed Dormady for the 2021 season. He was released before training camp even began but injuries forced the Alouettes to revisit their relationship with Dormady. Shortly after a work out with the Green Bay Packers he returned to the Alouettes, this time on their practice squad. This time he lasted seven months on the team before being let go in May of 2023 paving the way to join the XFL.
Dormady given the chance to start, shined in his professional regular season debut. Playing in 5 games he started 3. He managed to complete just under 69% of his passes for 1,272 yards, 7 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. He added 4 rushing touchdowns on just 18 carries averaging 4.6 per carry. Dormady should be a hot commodity no matter which league. He has the size, and now experience to put it together at the professional level.
Francois played at FSU, and Hampton during college. During college he earned ACC Rookie of the Year, and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year. He unfortunately also came out in 2020 and had to deal with the downsides of the COVID cancellations. He wound up unsigned and in the FCF by 2021. In 2021 he also spent time on two different TSL Rosters.
Playing for the Glacier Boyz he formed a bond with fellow XFL WR Andrew Jamiel. He also spent time with the future champions the Wild Aces. Francois would spend two seasons with the FCF playing with the Bored Ape Football Club in 2022. Luckily for both Jamiel and Francois former FCF Coach Robert Ford was now the OC for the Guardians.
In 2023 Ford stocked up on former FCF players, bringing in several. Francois went on to appear in five games with one start. Completing just 51% of his passes he managed 3 touchdowns to 3 interceptions similar to the numbers he put up in the TSL. However in the FCF Francois played like a star racking up a 6-4 record on the strength of 8.3 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. He ended his time in the FCF playing in 15 games with 10 starts, 1,139 yards 29 touchdowns and 3 interceptions total. Francois might actually be a better fit for the Canadian Game than he is the NFL at this point. He would certainly fit in several rooms in 2024 including Ottawa.
Centeio is another player who bounced around in college playing for Temple, Colorado State University, and James Madison from 2017-2022. After fighting Lupus as a high school Junior Centeio made the most of his college career when He was named the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, and Second Team All Sun Belt in 2022.
By the time Centeio left college he had played in 47 games with just 23 starts, and an 11-12 record, with all of his starts coming with CSU or JMU. He graduated with a 61.2% completion rate throwing 48 touchdowns to 17 interceptions and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt to the tune of 6,475 yards adding 1,135 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. His best work came his final two seasons when he managed: 22 starts and racked up 5,655 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 805 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns.
At his pro-day he measured out at 5’11 225 lbs. Running a 4.85 40-yard dash and reminding everyone he can still sling it, he fell undrafted but found near immediate interest from the XFL who signed him as a true rookie for the 2024 season. Before he could play a snap with the XFL the merger shut down his team. Centeio needs to get some pro film out there. He had interest from the Washington Commanders, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kansas City Chiefs. He also attended a local pro day with the Philadelphia Eagles. I would expect that he has interest at the indoor level at least, but should garner CFL attention.
Houston Roughnecks (If Axed)
The Houston Roughnecks also have an intriguing group of signal callers. Led by veteran spring league QB Brandon Silvers, and rookie Lindsey Scott Jr. Houston arguably has 2 players that could start at the XFL level, after the release of McDonald and Eleby. It would appear they are on the chopping block due to some recent posts by prominent members of the team.
McDonald finished the season as a starter for the Roughnecks after beginning the year as the QB2 behind Silvers. McDonald is a physical freak at QB standing 6’3 215 pounds, he ran the fastest 40 yard dash of any QB in 2020, a 4.58, he also managed the highest vertical leap.
This helped him get drafted by the Tennessee Titans who selected him in round 7 of the 2020 NFL Draft. He lasted just one offseason with the Titans despite being a near clone of Ryan Tannehill in terms of athletic ability. He worked out with Carolina but wasn’t signed. He found interest with the Arizona Cardinals early in 2021 signing a futures deal but didn’t make it to the preseason before being let go. This led him to Toronto where he joined the Argonauts in September.
The Argos let him see some time in the finial regular season game while resting starters. They brought him back to compete in 2022 but he was let go early in training camp but never resurfaced until 2023 with the Roughnecks. Houston saw an opportunity to get a high level athlete with a lot of upside and jumped on it. McDonald suited up for every game and was used in certain situations before taking over the starting job. He went on to complete 61.2% of his 58 pass attempts for 437 yards 2 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. He rushed 45 times for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns.
At 6’0 228 lbs and running a 4.58 40-yard dash he is a perfect candidate as a short yardage option for any CFL team at worst, and at best he’s a starting caliber QB2.
Silvers began his career on the outside of the NFL and never really got a foot in the door despite playing in the AAF, XFL 2.0, FCF, and now XFL 3.0. At 29 years old he likely is an alternative football lifer, and at this point possibly even as a backup.
Since starting with the Memphis Express in 2019 where he managed to complete 64% of his passes while averaging 6.4 yards per attempt for 799 yards total, throwing 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, Silvers has arguably regressed. Silvers has played in a total of 12 XFL games:
209 of 364 for 2,090 yards, 19 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. Adding 13 carries for 3 yards. A 57.4% completion rate, and only 5.74 yards per attempt.
One league Silvers has not played in yet, is the CFL, but it might actually play into his style of play. He’s a spread quarterback who is at his best when he can sit back in the shotgun and divvy up the ball to his playmakers. Playing on a wider field, with an extra pass catcher could actually be a benefit to his style as a high volume short to intermediate passer. I would certainly be interested to see what he would look like as a CFL quarterback. It could be the first long term home he has had as a professional quarterback.
Lindsey Scott Jr, essentially had his pick of leagues and teams when it came to where he would play in 2024. He watched as he was drafted in the USFL, and XFL, while Montreal, claimed his rights. Now it wouldn’t be the first time we have seen a player traded from one neg list to another. If I am Ottawa I honestly might make the calculated gamble to trade for Scott’s rights.
The man who once had options saw his rights drafted by not one but two teams that could get removed from the new league. The Pittsburgh Maulers, and the Houston Roughnecks. Luckily for him it sounds like Houston could possibly stick while Pittsburgh the team he chose against is gone. Montreal and the CFL suddenly look like his best option for 2024, but he might still opt to take his chances with the dispersal draft. I would argue the CFL might be his easiest path to a starting job especially if he ends up on a team like Ottawa with an often injured starter.
Kaleb Eleby is a 6’1 210 pound gunslinger that attended Western Michigan University. He wound up a two year starter over the 2020 and 2021 seasons. He also saw game action as a true freshman but didn’t see the field as a sophomore. Eleby made the most of his chances to start.
Playing in a total of 24 games, Eleby collected 58 total touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while collecting 6,084 passing yards. He completed 63% his passes along the way.
After 2021 he declared for the NFL draft. He attended the combine but did not run the 40-yard dash. He did the vertical leap, and broad jump. This was likely to avoid hurting his stock as his numbers may not have done justice for his on field athleticism.
Elegy’s smaller sample size, and lack of a full combine performance had him rated as a priority free agent. This is precisely what transpired as he was not selected in the 2022 season and attended rookie minicamp with Seattle after getting looks from New England, Detroit, and Houston. I have to wonder if Eleby given the chance to repeat his choices would have decided to return to college for his final two seasons of eligibility.
In 2023 after a season out of the league Eleby found interest and a home with the Houston Roughnecks. He would last the entire season in Houston but not see much playing time. He appeared in one game going 5 of 8 passing for 61 yards, rushing once for 6 yards. Eleby may not have played much but there is something to be said about being coached by Aj Smith. Smith nearly went back to playing semi-pro football himself after XFL 2020 but instead ended up returning to coaching and has developed into a highly respected offensive mind.
Update: The Roughnecks have released both Cole McDonald, and Kaleb Eleby. Perhaps to pursue options in other leagues.
Reality of the Situation
The truth is, no matter how you look at this merger there are men to stand to lose jobs in the coaching ranks, and as players and that is never a good thing. Do I believe this merge makes spring football as a whole stronger? Absolutely, but coming at the expense of nearly 400 jobs is something I can’t get past no matter how hard I try.
Now we know some players will end up seeing opportunities in the CFL, but that just means others in the CFL are left out of work. Now luckily for some, many players in all three of these leagues are retiring as well. Some based on age, and some based on the state of their career. This will reduce how many players lose jobs, but at the same time we still have a 2024 rookie class incoming as well. There will never be a shortage of players, but it appears there is a shortage of jobs.
Obviously Ottawa can’t sign all of these guys on this list but I believe my top target would be Jalan McClendon on this list. McClendon is simply too intriguing of a player at this point not to take a flier on his potential after seeing a glimpse of what he can be in 2023. Behind McClendon I think you have to seriously consider the prospect of adding Dormady. Dormady is a guy that looks like he can be a capable quarterback, he just needs a legitimate shot to be THE guy for an entire season. He shined like a diamond in the rough in 2023 for the One win Orlando Guardians. Could he do the same if Masoli got hurt in 2024?
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