Players in Alliance of American Football league to be paid 3-year, $250K contracts

Barry Wilner, Associated Press

When the Alliance of American Football makes its first snap next February, there could be lots of familiar names playing for each of the eight teams.

Makes sense, too, because a brand new league needs as many hooks to attract fans as it can find. The Alliance is going with a geographic allocation system that takes advantage of where players attended college, or where they performed in the NFL.

For example, if former Alabama standout running back Trent Richardson opts to join the Alliance, he would be placed on Birmingham’s roster. Players who attended Arizona or Arizona State would wind up with the Phoenix franchise. Anyone who played for one of the major Florida schools would be placed with the Orlando team.

“We think this will disperse the talent in a way that will be logical,” says Bill Polian, whose work as an NFL personnel man with Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis got him voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “We borrowed that from the USFL.”

Polian, Alliance CEO Charlie Ebersol and the other league founders hope to be far more successful and have more longevity than that league, which lasted three seasons in the 1980s before folding. Unquestionably, players to fill out the 75-man rosters – other franchises will be in San Diego, Memphis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Atlanta – are available. Now, the Alliance has a system for distributing them, particularly once NFL teams make their roster cuts at the beginning of September.

Basically, players from any schools in the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 power conferences will wind up with a franchise in their region. Polian says because the Alliance has no markets in Big Ten and Big 12 areas, “we left them largely unallocated.” Players from such schools as Penn State or Kansas State likely will be apportioned based on which NFL club cut them. But the league plans to distribute four NFL teams’ cuts to each of the Alliance squads.

“In addition, we gave each team a CFL team, again based on rough geography,” Polian says. “The West CFL teams would go to the West Alliance teams …

“When a player is cut or he is not in the NFL or CFL, the first thing is we look for a college affiliation. His rights are your property if he is affiliated with one of your colleges. If his college is not assigned, we go to his pro team. If the NFL team does not work, and he is in the CFL, we go to that. Finally, if he is completely unallocated, he can be put on rights list first-come, first-serve.”

Most smaller schools have not been allocated, nor have any from the lower levels of college ball.

Should a player draw interest from an NFL club after being cut in September and allocated to an Alliance team, he would be free to return to the NFL. But not once the Alliance begins play the weekend after the Super Bowl.

“They can go at any time except from the start of our training camp to our championship game,” says Polian, whose league will play a 10-game season, with four teams making the playoffs. “The reason we set our calendar the way we did, our season ends just as OTAs are beginning (in the NFL). They won’t miss a heck of a lot, if anything at all, and they will be in shape in late April. They can go right back to the NFL and not miss a beat.”

Or they could head back to college. The Alliance will be offering players post-secondary education assistance, as well as health and wellness benefits.

“In addition,” Polian explains “every player completing a full (Alliance) season will receive a scholarship of a significant amount of money and we will provide counselling if they want to go back to school.”

Each player will be signed to a three-year contract with a minimum base gross salary of $250,000 over three years. But they can earn more.

“With bonuses related to skill, statistical levels and even some fan engagement,” Polian says, “they can earn considerably more than their base minimum. We think it’s very competitive and a decent wage for basically a 10-game season.”

Now that the Alliance has established how it will distribute players and has scheduled scouting combines for August for players not in NFL camps, the next big step comes Sept. 1: cutdown day in the NFL.

“The large push will come at the cut to 53 when a great many players will come on the market,” Polian says. “Our big challenge will be getting the right players.”


53 Comments on Players in Alliance of American Football league to be paid 3-year, $250K contracts

  1. Crooked Hillary // July 12, 2018 at 11:35 am //

    Time for the CFL to increase the league minimum contracts.

  2. Where's Shultz? // July 12, 2018 at 11:42 am //

    So that means minimum salary is over $80,000 per year, AMERICAN dollars. That’s probably around double what a CFL minimum is after taxes and exchange rates.

    • Which will mean that some CFL players earning below that will jump to the league. They won’t have to wait around for a year in the CFL to honour their contracts.
      NFL cuts and NCAA players that would consider the CFL could join the new league.
      $80k US is $105 Cdn right now and with lower income tax and a lower cost of living, I expect many to choose this league.8

    • john gatti // July 12, 2018 at 10:46 pm //


  3. This will certainly water down the CFL talent pool with a likely more lucrative contract but on the other hand they will be committed for 3 years and not just the minimum 2 years as in the CFL,

    • They aren’t committed to the AAF for three years. From the article above, “Should a player draw interest from an NFL club after being cut in September and allocated to an Alliance team, he would be free to return to the NFL. But not once the Alliance begins play the weekend after the Super Bowl.

      “They can go at any time except from the start of our training camp to our championship game,” says Polian, whose league will play a 10-game season, with four teams making the playoffs. “The reason we set our calendar the way we did, our season ends just as OTAs are beginning (in the NFL). They won’t miss a heck of a lot, if anything at all, and they will be in shape in late April. They can go right back to the NFL and not miss a beat.”

  4. This is a ridiculous salary model that has ZERO chance of success.

    Just as the USFL was laughably misguided. Completely unsustainable.

  5. Tiger man // July 12, 2018 at 12:19 pm //

    So players are placed in teams geographically.

    So, if one area is rich in talent by luck of location, they could get a significant if not unfair head start over others not so enhanced.


  6. The AAF season is from early Feb. to April.
    “The reason we set our calendar the way we did, our season ends just as OTAs are beginning (in the NFL). They won’t miss a heck of a lot, if anything at all, and they will be in shape in late April. They can go right back to the NFL and not miss a beat.”

    So it sounds like the AAF 3 year contract only applies during their season and then players are free to pursue the NFL, or the CFL. So the AAF can be a way for players to stay in shape in the NFL or CFL off season and then still play in the CFL or NFL. Downside is risk of injury.

    • It certainly sounds that way, but makes one wonder what the value of putting a length on the contract is. I’m sure a player can be cut at any time anyway, and obviously, they can also leave at a any time (not during the season). The fact that players are geographically allocated means that they can’t jump ship to sign with another team anyway……so who cares if the contract is for 1 year, 2 years, or life?

  7. SeaFiddle // July 12, 2018 at 1:03 pm //

    They also have a contract with CBS to televise the games. For sure a player interested in getting back in the NFL will have a lot more visibility than the CFL. No doubt if the timing was right Manziel would have signed up. If the league goes and Manziel does not get an offer in the NFL the way things are working out in Hamilton pretty much insures he will bail on the CFL.

    • John Hayman // July 12, 2018 at 5:07 pm //

      Really, you think he will bail on the CFL?

      I get that choosing between the NFL and CFL, Manziel would chose the NFL.

      But if his choice is between the CFL and AAF, why would he choose the AAF? In the short term, he’d earn more money in the CFL. In the longer term, it’s more likely the CFL will be around in 5 years than the AAF.

      • And more importantly if he plays 2 years in the CFL and then signs for the minimum 3 in that league he will be 30 before he can go back to the NFL.

        • Mark: That’s a bit of a wash.

          From the article:

          “They can go at any time except from the start of our training camp to our championship game”

          So in the off-season a player could sign with an NFL club (or CFL club).

          After Manziel’s first contract in the CFL is over, he can sign for any term he wants — one year, two year, 5-year. So not-quite-the-same-but-basically-the-same.

  8. David Tress // July 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm //

    CFL teams will have to pay more to keep their best players otherwise the quality of play will drop off and the attendance will drop off as well. There should be efforts to keep the top players in the CFL.

  9. Important message and note for CFL fans and sports fans in general and all the NFL only fans and the younger generation sports fans in Canada. Listening to Rick Howe’s talk show this morning in Halifax on 95.7 radio July12/2018, the 10 am open hour at the 20:48 minute. During a session on the potential CFL franchise and new stadium for Halifax. The most interesting and exciting part of Rick Howe’s open hour show was when SPYDER called in and launched his first public media awareness and exposed his…
    SPYDER’S Proposed New
    CFL RED-ZONE Rule to the public and sports fans in Halifax for the first time. Which he only gave a small briefing and unofficial launch to that he said he will be rolling out officially soon on a three part you tube show. Stayed tuned! There is a lot more to come! Can’t wait to see it on you tube, sounds really exciting and Big!
    PS. It’s a must listen, go to the 95.7 news talk show site in Halifax and click on Rick Howe’s show and go to July 12/2018 10 am open hour part and go to the 20:48 minute to hear it.

  10. RicoBeBlue&Gold // July 12, 2018 at 1:34 pm //


    WTF? Who paid for that post?

  11. TicatTO // July 12, 2018 at 2:25 pm //

    $80,000 US per player per year with 75 players on a roster!
    With attendance down in the NFL where is the sponcership money coming from? With 32 teams in NFL where are the underserved areas in the US to support this league? I really can’t see Americans supporting an already saturated sports media.

  12. Tiger man // July 12, 2018 at 3:04 pm //

    Yet another faulty league that will quickly come and go….and in the process more bad football…

    • Except … the people involved here are different. Not a huckster league like the XFL or USFL. These are respected football (Polian, the McKay family) and broadcast (Charlie and Dick Ebersol) people. I wouldn’t underestimate them at all.

      There is definitely a risk to the CFL talent pool.

      • TheLastArgoFan // July 12, 2018 at 4:27 pm //

        I’m fairly sure that Dick Ebersol was the one who sihned NBC to broadcast the XFL and worked with Vince McMahon on how they wanted to broadcast the games.
        Remember the cheerleaders boob and crotch shots??

  13. Evil Empire // July 12, 2018 at 4:34 pm //

    Trolls galore. Yet, I get the awaiting moderation. I’m just about done with this circus.

  14. John Hayman // July 12, 2018 at 5:36 pm //

    What happens next should be obvious: The CFL and AAF need to work out how to allow players to move freely between the two leagues.

    AAF Season: February – April
    CFL Season: June – November

    From a player’s perspective: why wouldn’t they want to play in both leagues in the same year.

    From the leagues’ perspectives: why would they want a quality player to have to choose between the two leagues.

    Will CFL teams allow their players to play in the AAF in the off season? Looks like AAF will allow their players to play in the CFL in their off-season.

    My understanding is that there is no agreement to honour each other’s contracts and unless that happens, a player can play in both leagues.

    • MR. Green // July 12, 2018 at 6:03 pm //

      That could be too much football for a player, potentially at least 28-30games. Still, that’s also decent money for 10 games.
      I can’t see this working as a co-working relationship. What if you have a player under contract, he gets hurt there? You’re responsible to pay him his salary while rehabbing here. Say it’s a long term injury.
      This will affect the CFL big time. It doesn’t say what top end talent will make, but if I was a player, I max my money income because most are not making big money. Can this league sustain success? I don’t know if but odds are not great. So, to start, it will hurt us. Ambrosie has already positioned the league for limiting the CBA with players, bcaus players don’t like what coaches make, so he capped them.
      Which brings up, what do thier coaches make?
      I just don’t like it because they are guaranteed 3 year deals. 28 games is a lot. They end in !ay, Camp starts soon after. They come in beat up if there is a deal made. If no deal, they are gone, maybe or good. They could even steal the top end Canadian talent potentially. Canadian talent seems weaker than ever.
      So a y questions, and I guess too early to assume.

      • > That could be too much football for a player, potentially at least 28-30games.

        For most that will be true. But its not unheard of. Paul McCallum played in the WLAF and CFL in the same year (multiple times, I think). Rickey Foggie played in the Arena league and CFL in the same year.

        For young players trying to get a shot at the NFL, they’ll take every opportunity they can get.

        Plus there are players that will see limited action, either because of their position (kicker, long-snapper, returner) or because they are a backup or PR player. The AAF will have 75 players on a roster — that’s a lot.

        > What if you have a player under contract, he gets hurt there? You’re responsible to pay him his salary while rehabbing here. Say it’s a long term injury.

        I’m not sure what the CBA says about players that get hurt outside of football. I’m not sure what the team’s obligation is. Certainly if a co-operative arrangement is made, that would have to be worked out.

  15. The major thing with football in the US…If it isn’t NFL, they don’t consider it football. With what they say they will be paying, that would be a minimum of over 6 million a year per team.I cant see the American public paying a bunch of money to watch washed up older NFL players, and NFL cuts.

  16. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of money to generate in 10 games. They’d have to have a pretty good TV deal, but then they have some TV heavy hitters in their ownership group.

    If this is successful it won’t be a threat to our QBs and other high end talent, but it will be a threat to our entry level contract guys and even our mid level guys. It could even act as a development league for our QBs and other high end talent, but we’d probably have to up our salary structure in some way to compete on the lower end guys.

    It does open up some interesting/complicated possibles, however. Let’s say that a player plays the season on an AAF team and then, by the sounds of it, he’d be free to try out for another team. Why not take a spot on a CFL PR and make some extra money that way? Now here’s the catch. If the CFL team likes you and wants to sign you to a regular contract, iow you would be locked in for a couple of years, you have to consider that your AAF team would pay you $80k US next year, so to sign you to a regular contract the CFL team may have to give you a $100k contract.

  17. It has a lot to do with this article if you’re open minded and care about the horrible attendance in the CFL and the outrageous amount of empty seats in the CFL and with as well the XFL starting up. Because our 3 down is not selling and losing more and more popularity and those are the facts. And any exciting and more entertaining new rule that would make our 3 down game and a lot better and a lot more popular than it’s currently, would be a good thing. And calling someone a Loser and using horrible and disrespectful language using WTF? Which we all know what the letters mean, I believe you should look at who the real Loser is! And why does 3downNation allow this to go on and allow you to post a terribly rude and disgusting and foul line language post?

    • These guys who post here are pretty passionate about the league and when something doesn’t sync or sit well, they’ll let you know it.

      But you shot right back with a sweeping generalization – calling the attendance horrible and empty seats outrageous and it’s not selling. Yes, You’ve got one team with lagging attendance… then on the other hand, over 700,000 watching Thurs night football which any sports league in this country would be more than proud of!

  18. We’ll see come this time next year if this league is still around, if the pay structure stayed the same and of they were able to pay their players.

    83K base for 50 players is 4.16M per team, only 5 home games means each team needs to bring in around 1M per game to pay the players base play(not counting bonuses) then add travel, coaches and so on. Good luck.

    With 8 teams they better have a good t.v. deal because i wouldn’t bet on near sellout crowds.

  19. Jim Bob // July 12, 2018 at 9:42 pm //

    Plenty of players to go around in North America for the CFL and AAFL but the CFL better EXPECT a BIG EXIT of guys playing out their contracts in the CFL. 80K or so for a BOTTOM BARREL base salary for a 10 game schedule vs a BOTTOM BARREL of 55K in the CFL for 18 games is a HUGH DIFFERENCE. Factor in the exchange rate and it is magnified even more. Good players will be out there for both leagues but for the CFL GMs and personnel guys a much tougher job in getting guys to cross the border or stay there when their contract runs out.

    • I think you hit on something important there. More money, for a much shorter season. Any player that is also working a “regular” job, or continuing their education would be much further ahead with the shorter season.

  20. Barnes…Passionate isn’t calling someone a Loser and using foul language. Yes that’s a good rating, but the enormous amount of empty seats around the the CFL don’t lie! Owners in MTL, Toronto and BC can’t survive with low attendance like that in a gate driven league. And attendance is way down in Calgary and Winnipeg too and in other CFL cities as well. That is not generalizing it’s fact, and is certainly not helping the image of the league or our 3 down game’s popularity.

    • So why not just tell us of this magical rule instead of plugging some radio show? You keep talking about “facts”. but your new rule is in a shadow.

  21. john gatti // July 12, 2018 at 10:50 pm //

    The CFL is full of talented underpaid athletes. The officials make peanuts which explains why they are so brutally bad. In today’s world of sports entertainment the CFL is in trouble. I have no answers.

  22. Why a 75 man roster ???

    First mistake. 50 would have been plenty.

  23. Jim Bob // July 13, 2018 at 2:02 am //

    75 man rosters has to be a training camp roster? I can see possibly a 50 man active roster. Even the NEW XFL to start in 2020 are only to have 40 man active rosters. Of course there will most likely be a 10 to 12 player non active practice roster to fill spots as guys get injured or cut. Will really hurt the CFL if National Players head south because the $$$ is better and the season shorter.

  24. The AAFL actually looks like it has a lot of things going for it that could threaten the CFL talent pool. Higher salaries, a shorter season, the chance to stay in the US (which means tax & cost of living benefits) big names on both the business and football side, several big name coaches, easy option to leave for the NFL, a major US TV network etc.

    Even if this isn’t sustainable in the long term, it could have an effect in the short term. With the XFL also starting, competition could heat up between the CFL, AAFL and XFL with all leagues competing for a similar talent pool.

    That might actually be a good thing. Competition might lead to innovation and exciting changes in the CFL now that it can no longer count on being the #2 pro football league by default.

  25. John gatti.. Most fans just cite the 105 year old grey cup and say the CFL will last forever.. The answer is to copy how FIFA football leagues in same and different countries relate to each other. The Montreal Impact recently sold (a buy out of sorts) the live contract of a player to Barcelona FC for big Euros. His agent then negotiated an extension. The MlS does not play when other leagues are pkaing. So TFC often loans its players for a fee to Euro clubs for a fee to get play time. Ambrosie should arrange a meeting now to arrange rules now for player transfers and lians. Initially CFL would be more a receiver a talent from AAF but the goal us to sell or loan to other leagues for a profit in the same way Mtl did to Barcelona.

  26. Mike G.. Great attitude. Ambrosie should meet with AAFL now to establish ground rules. A CFL team should be able to buy out an AAFL contract on a fee schedule. same time the AAFL should pay the CFL fir off season loans to get play time.

  27. I would think the AAFL has player buy outs so if a player gets a CFL or NFL contract for way more and does not want to play in Spring they can buy out the AAF contract. CFL will be forced to raise cap. This is why Johnny Football needs to play now to hook in US digital tv subs.

  28. John Hayman // July 13, 2018 at 9:03 am //

    Interesting to note that three of the eight AAFL cities are former CFL cities, playing in the same stadiums.

    Attendance for CFL games in Birmingham was respectable in the month of July (but cratered when the NCAA season began). So there might be an appetite for non-NCAA, non-NFL football in the US for 5 home games from February-April.

  29. John Haymen.. Many think the AAF will fail because other leagues have but the key difference this league will NOT play at the same time NFL, NCAA, or CFL play. So it is not really competitive with the CFL. However, Ambrosie needs to handle player flow, injury issues, and a way to profit from players the CFL develops that go back to NFL, AAF, or XFL in the same way the Montreal Impact sold a player to Barcelona for big Euros sooner rather than later. Plus use Manziel to pump up ratings in the USA to get a bigger better deal from ESPN or whomever.

  30. Other than the USFL, all other leagues that have come and went were spring leagues. As for AAF being set up better? Maybe, they seem to be trying to take aspects from all the previous defunct leagues and piece them together. As for former NFL people involved, this has occurred in previous leagues as well, most recently the UFL.
    The CFL and its fans should definitely take notice and have some contingency plans for discussion and in place, but I would wait and see. Some spring leagues benefitted the CFL. More players would arrive to training camp with some Pro level experience.
    As for the doom and gloom comments regarding the CFL that arise everytime a new league is even discussed let alone start up, be patient. If the CFL has to adapt in the future to deal with these new leagues, it will.

  31. The CFL is on its last legs,
    ALL Canadian players and coaches by 2021.

  32. Edward Leslie // July 13, 2018 at 4:05 pm //

    Sea: The CFL is a cyclical operation. It’s like the weather. It changes (good and bad), but it always manages to weather the storm and abide. It will do so with the arrival of these new leagues too.

    I don’t see the idea of more Canadians as somethi g bad either.
    I think the CFL should put more emphasis on “Canadian”. Having just seven Canadian starters out of 24 isn’t enough IMO.
    It’s very hard for Canadians to get opportunities with mostly American coaches and General Managers, along with long term veteran players holding down spots, usually 3-4 of them O-linemen.

    The Canadian players get stuck and labelled as special teamers and backups.
    This season we’ve seen that when these kind of players do get a chance, they do well:
    Chris Ackie (one of the tackles leaders), Mercer Timmis, Sean Thomas Erlington, Levi Noel, Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, Brett Lauther and Juwan Brescacin. These guys can play. More are patiently awaiting the chance.

    I think Randy Ambrosie should roll back the ratio to
    30 Canadians/ 14 Imports, with just 12 Import starters.

  33. Ray Jay Johnson II // July 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm //

    83,333.00 per year x3 250.000 in CFL is 40902.74 US x 2 =81,805.48
    Why would I ever play in the CFL
    Even if the Alliance of American Football league went to 2 years deals your still getting more money 166,666.00 for 2 seasons
    when this new league giving more money
    CFL Need stop being cheep

Comments are closed.