After a doomsday Tuesday for the Alliance of American Football, the NFL teams that began the process of identifying players they were interested in signing were interrupted by a league memo Wednesday telling them not to do so, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The memo, distributed to all 32 clubs, discouraged teams from engaging with AAF players or their agents. It was standard procedure, as the NFL is being proactive to prevent the possibility of litigation. NFL teams aren’t allowed to contact players in other leagues. While the AAF has suspended operations, it hasn’t officially folded or canceled its season. Until that happens, NFL teams have been told to steer clear.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined to comment on the memo.
Later on Thursday, the AAF announced that its players could indeed sign with an NFL club. Yahoo Sports confirmed the Kansas City Chiefs’ signing of Orlando Apollos cornerback Keith Reaser, which was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Effective immediately, all AAF players are authorized to sign with NFL Clubs.
— The Alliance (@TheAAF) April 4, 2019
The AAF’s sudden decision to suspend all operations stunned the league’s coaches and players, who were two weeks away from completing the regular season. Many teams made the decision to send players home.
There was also an internal AAF memo sent Tuesday that terminated employees, another sign the league wouldn’t be coming back this year. The memo stated the league will be seeking new investors and may return next year if some holdovers can successfully restructure the business.
“I still am [keeping hope], for sure,” Memphis Express cornerback Terrell Bonds said of an AAF restart. “I’m back, for sure, for sure. Without question. As quick as possible.”
Bonds also has hope that some NFL team saw what he did this season — 17 tackles in eight games — and might invite him to camp.
“I know they were watching, they had to be watching, and I know they had to see a lot of things they liked because this was good football, it really was,” Orlando Apollos offensive lineman Chris Martin said. “Obviously, the caliber isn’t the NFL, with the highest of highest athletes, but it was still good football.”
Martin, 29, was a member of five different NFL teams before he landed in the AAF. He says there are some players who could play in the NFL.
“I played on several different teams while I was there, that’s why I know a whole lot of these guys, personally, and I can tell you for sure, more guys than you’d realize deserve a chance and need to be in the NFL,” Martin said.
Some will get that chance. For now — until the AAF finalizes its current status, and the NFL gives its teams the go-ahead to pursue players — they’ll have to wait.
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