Former NFL Draft pick Derrick Jones signs in USFL after quiet release from Calgary Stampeders

Courtesy: AP Photo/Duane Burleson

The Derrick Jones saga has come to a conclusion in Calgary as the former NFL defensive back has gotten his wish and signed with the United States Football League’s New Orleans Breakers.

While the Stampeders have not formally announced the move, the CFL’s transactions page indicates that the team quietly released the disgruntled Jones on April 8. The move came more than a month after the Ole Miss product made noise for publicly calling out the team after they refused his request to be allowed to play in the nascent spring league.

Under contract with the Stamps since December, Jones was a surprise selection by the Breakers in the ninth round of the inaugural USFL Draft in February. This violated a promise by the new league to honour existing CFL contracts and was later claimed to be an oversight with New Orleans removing Jones from the team roster.

Jones then took to Twitter to call out the Stampeders for what he called “unprofessional” behaviour in the lead up to his USFL selection. He shared private text conversations with Calgary defensive coordinator Brent Monson and an email from football administration director Molly Campbell in which he requested a release in order to play in the USFL. Jones then claimed he received no communication from Stampeders’ management on the subject until after the USFL Draft.

In the shared messages, Jones indicated that his interest in the USFL was strictly a business decision. However, later comments on social media have inferred that a passport issue could prevent him from crossing the Canadian border. It is unclear when that information was shared with the Stampeders.

The six-foot-two, 188-pound cover man played 44 games over four seasons at Mississippi. He tallied 54 tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss, six passes defended, two interceptions including one returned for a touchdown and one forced fumble. Jones also played receiver during his time with the Rebels, making 11 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

Jones was selected in the sixth round, 204th overall by the New York Jets in the 2017 NFL Draft and he made three tackles in four games with the team. He later was with the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans. Jones signed with the XFL’s Seattle Dragons in 2020 and played two games, making one defensive tackle and one special teams tackle.

Jones was slated to be paid a base salary of $65,000 CAD for the 2022 CFL season with a $1,500 CAD travel allowance and $3,500 CAD for housing. He could have earned up to an additional $6,000 CAD if certain performance bonuses were reached.

USFL contracts pay a standard rate of $45,000 USD for their 10-game season with the potential for win-based incentives. A player on an undefeated USFL championship team could earn a maximum of $75,750 USD.

Since first calling out the organization on social media, Jones had made clear that he had no intention of ever playing for the Stampeders. That burnt bridge has now been formally severed, just in time for the first week of the USFL season.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.