XFL Teams 2023: Team-by-team Guide to all 8 XFL Teams & Rosters
Super Bowl 57 marked the end of the NFL season, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait 7 more months for football. The XFL is returning this year, and the first games are scheduled for February 18. The last XFL season took place in 2020 before COVID-19 forced the league to suspend the inaugural season and put the future of the XFL in jeopardy. However, after a 2-year hiatus, the XFL is back. They are a fan-first football league that strives to make the game more exciting to the viewers, as they have implemented several different rules that would increase the action. We have put together a team-by-team guide for all 8 XFL teams which covers all you’ll need to know about this league.
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XFL Teams by Division
XFL North Division Teams
The Defenders will be coached by Reggie Barlow, who played 8 seasons in the NFL before coaching 13 years for several different HBCU teams. Leading the team on the field will be Eric Dungey, who was a Syracuse quarterback from 2015-2018, and was an elite duel-threat in his collegiate career. Dungey signed with the New York Giants following the 2019 NFL Draft and bounced around to the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals as well. He finally gets a shot at showcasing his skills at the professional level, and the Defenders are thrilled.
After hearing the Defenders selected Dungey, Barlow said “Eric has the ability to affect the game not just with his arm, but with his mobility and running ability, which gives us even more options on offense.” In the backfield, the Defenders are stacked. They have former Baylor star Abram Smith along with Ryquell Armstead, Pooka Williams and Artavis Pierce, so expect the Defenders to be a run-first offense with Dungey’s mobility and Smith’s powerful legs.
St. Louis Battlehawks
If you’re looking to cheer for a team with an experienced quarterback, you’ve found your home. AJ McCarron will earn another shot at professional football after a fantastic college career at Alabama and an 8-year NFL career. McCarron finished with a 36-4 record as a starting quarterback at Alabama and won 3 National Championships during his time in Tuscaloosa. He became the only quarterback to win consecutive BCS National Championship games. In the NFL, McCarron played in 16 games for the Bengals, Raiders and Texans as he threw for over 1,000 yards with a 6/3 touchdown/interception ratio.
Along with McCarron on offense, St. Louis also has Brian Hill, who is an NFL veteran, and Mataeo Durant, who impressed many during Duke’s terrible season in 2021. The Battlehawks will put a lot of trust in McCarron early, so expect St. Louis to come out swinging.
Seattle Sea Dragons
The Sea Dragons have the second-shortest odds to win the XFL this season, and it’s not hard to see why. They boast NFL experience on the sideline, at quarterback and receiver. Jim Haslett has been named the coach of Seattle, who has had a long coaching career in the NFL. It started in 1993 as the linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Raiders and ended in 2021 as the inside linebackers coach for the Titans. He was named the NFL Coach of the Year in 2000 for the Saints. Haslett will coach former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci, who played 3 games for the Cowboys in 2020. He was Dak Prescott’s backup and was given a short window of opportunity in 2020 before Cooper Rush took over as Prescott’s understudy and sent DiNucci down the depth chart.
DiNucci’s favorite target is expected to be Josh Gordon, who had a roller coaster of an NFL career. Gordon was a star for the Browns in 2012 and 2013, in which he had over 1,000 receiving yards, before his career started going south with off-the-field issues. He spent time with the Patriots, Seahawks, Chiefs and Titans before returning to Seattle as part of the XFL. The Sea Dragons are expected to be a very fun team to watch because of their high-powered offense.
Las Vegas now has its 2nd football team, as the Vipers have relocated from Tampa Bay to Vegas. They will have Rod Woodson as the coach, who is nothing short of an NFL legend. And at quarterback, Luis Perez and Brett Hundley will battle for the starting role. If Perez’s name sounds familiar, it might be from the 2020 XFL season, or his short stint in the NFL, The Spring League, United States Football League, or the Alliance of America Football. Name a professional football league and Perez has probably played in it. But he will compete with Hundley, who was an excellent starting quarterback at UCLA from 2012-2014 before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers.
However, the most well-known name on the Vipers’ roster is Martavis Bryant, who played 3 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and 1 for the Oakland Raiders. He accumulated 17 touchdowns in 44 NFL games, but off-the-field issues derailed his career. Now back in football at just 30 years old, Bryant and the Vipers are ready to be a dark horse.
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XFL South Division Teams
The Renegades enter the second XFL season as the favorite to win it all. After all, they are the only team with a coach returning from the 2020 XFL season. That coach is Bob Stoops, who is a legend in the Oklahoma football program. He will lead a team with Kyle Slotter at quarterback, who bounced around 6 different NFL practice squads before playing in the United States Football League for the New Orleans Breakers. Slotter was impressive in the USFL, as he finished with the 2nd-most passing yards among quarterbacks.
Although the Breakers fell just short of the Championship game, Slotter showed that he still had energy left in the tank. But the smartest move that the Renegades did was sign Sal Canella, who was Slotter’s tight end on the Breakers. Slotter and Canella were one of the most dangerous offensive duos in the USFL and Arlington is hoping for the duo to pick up where they left off. The hometown team is expected to be one of the most dangerous offensive squads in the league, so don’t be surprised if the Renegades light up the scoreboard early on.
There are a lot of recognizable names in the XFL this season and Wade Phillips is at the top of that list. Phillips is a former head coach of the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys with decades of coaching experience in the NFL. At 75 years old, Phillips’ coaching resume is still going! Phillips was also a defensive coordinator for the Saints, Eagles, Broncos, Bills, Falcons, Chargers, Texans and Rams – 25% of the teams in the NFL. He is a defensive-minded coach who has put together a very strong Roughnecks defense, and although Houston is in the middle of the pack to win the XFL, their defense could help them leapfrog teams in the standings.
On offense, there are a lot of forgotten college football stars or NFL “busts” that are looking to prove doubters wrong. With a fiery offensive group and a strong defense, the Roughnecks are more than capable of finishing at the top of the standings when the regular season is over.
San Antonio Brahmas
It took some time, but San Antonio finally got their football team. The Brahmas are coached by Hines Ward, a former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. For those wondering, a Brahma is a type of bull that is suited for the Texas climate. Along with quite an unusual name they have Jack Coan at quarterback, one of the youngest QBs in the XFL. Coan spent 4 years at Wisconsin before transferring to Notre Dame for his final season, and with all things considered, he had a successful college career. He was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent but was released shortly after. Instead of bouncing around NFL practice squads, Coan decided to go to the XFL where he could get a starting role.
He will have plenty of NFL experience around him as all 6 of the wideouts on the final roster have some sort of NFL experience in their careers. The Brahmas have a lot of uncertainty around them due to Ward’s first-time coaching, Coan’s limited professional experience and a rather unknown group of receivers and running backs.
At the very bottom of the projected standings in the XFL are the Guardians. Unlike most of the XFL teams, the Guardians lack NFL experience at most positions. They do have Terrell Buckley as the head coach, who has 13 years of NFL experience under his belt, but this will be his first time coaching, so that inexperience is another reason why many are doubting Orlando. However, the biggest problem the Guardians face is at quarterback. They had Deondre Francois and Quinten Dormady competing for the starting job, but neither player was impressive during camp and nobody won the job.
That forced Orlando to sign Paxton Lynch, a 29-year-old and former first-round pick by the Broncos. If the Guardians can solve some of their problems and address the holes in the team, they could surprise some teams. But for now, Orlando is in the basement of the XFL.
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