McLeod Bethel-Thompson says he’s signed with USFL, hopes to attract NFL opportunity

Photo: Matthew Johnson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

It appears as though veteran quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has played his last snap in the CFL.

The 34-year-old took to his Instagram page on Wednesday morning to reveal that he has signed with the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL and is hoping to use the opportunity to garner another shot at the NFL.

Dear CFL,

I came to you 5 years ago dealing with the pain of a dream deferred. I was at a moment in my life where I felt I had self sabotaged my childhood dream away by losing sight of why I played the game. For 5 years you tested me, challenged me, battered me, doubted me, cheered me, healed me, strengthened me, crowned me, and freed me. Through that process you rejuvenated my sporting soul and I will forever be grateful.

You are under appreciated. The 3 down game is under appreciated. Your amazing population of participants are under appreciated. You have one of the longest and most storied histories of any sports league in North America and guess what your present is pretty great too. Week in and week out a miraculous and engaging product is on display. It was an honor and a privilege to get to know you.

I want to thank all my teammates, coaches, mentors, friends, and colleagues that have made my last 5 years magical. I have been on multiple championship teams and multiple teams that couldn’t find a way to win consistently. The difference is inches of play, teamwork, brotherhood, trust, and love. However, every year I became a better person and player. Thank you for chiseling me into my better self.

Now on to 2023. What is the hardest part of playing football? The time you sacrifice with loved ones. My amazing partner Chinaka, daughter Aziza, and my whole family have given me space to partake in the insanity it requires to pursue perfection. It is time I stay closer to home and chase my dream with family by my side.

My next journey begins with the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL and will then continue with considerable NFL interest this fall. I do not want this decision to be in any way seen as a dismissal of the XFL. I love the CFL and hold it in the highest regard. Playing in the states this year allows family and football to overlap and I could not pass up on that opportunity.

Please take good care of yourself and continue to display the pinnacle of what sport is all about.

Thank you and much love,


Bethel-Thompson led the CFL in passing yards in 2022, completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 4,731 yards, 23 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He helped the team capture victory in the 109th Grey Cup but exited the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a dislocated thumb. The six-foot-four, 220-pound passer underwent surgery for the injury and is expected to make a full recovery.

The pro football journeyman has played in alternative professional leagues in the past, spending time in the Arena Football League and United Football League in between NFL stops. He spent the cancelled 2020 CFL season playing in The Spring League, which formed the foundations of the current USFL.

While the USFL can’t compete with the CFL financially, money doesn’t appear to be the quarterback’s primary concern. His partner, Chinaka Hodge, is currently serving as head writer for an upcoming Marvel series on Disney+ called Ironheart.

The native of San Francisco, Calif. played 74 games over five seasons with the Argonauts, throwing for 13,261 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 49 interceptions. He was named an East Division all-star in 2021 and 2022 and led the league in touchdown passes in 2019.

Bethel-Thompson went unselected in the 2011 NFL Draft but spent time with a number of teams in the league, including the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles. He did not dress for any regular-season NFL games. He will be 35 by the time the 2023 NFL season gets underway.