The rebranded USFL pulled off something the AAF and XFL could not: a successful spring season. It was the one-loss Birmingham Stallions who hoisted the hardware earlier this month, as they defeated the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL championship, 33-30. While the Stallions didn't have the USFL MVP, the Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year or Coach of the Year, Skip Holtz put together arguably the most talented roster in the league.
If there's anything we learned from the past few months, it's that there's talent not rostered in the NFL. From defensive linemen to even kickers, the USFL showcased some impressive players who NFL teams are intrigued by.
Below, we will break down each USFL-to-NFL signing that has been reported this offseason.
WR Victor Bolden Jr. (Birmingham Stallions)
Bolden, who had short stints in the NFL with the 49ers, Bills and Lions, proved to be a valuable piece in the Stallions' offense, totaling 42 receptions for 415 yards and one touchdown. Those reception totals were the third highest in the league, while his receiving yards ranked fourth. Bolden capped off his productive season with an MVP performance in the USFL title game win over the Philadelphia Stars.
LB DeMarquis Gates (Birmingham Stallions)
The Bears are reportedly signing one of the best players from the 2022 USFL season in linebacker Gates. He recorded 62 tackles, 6.5 sacks and a league-leading 11 tackles for loss for the champion Stallions. Undrafted out of Ole Miss in 2018, Gates spent time with the Browns, Washington and Vikings, but has not played in an NFL game yet.
DE Chris Odom (Houston Gamblers)
Cleveland is taking a flier on the USFL Defensive Player of the Year. Odom was dominant over the past few months, as he led the USFL in sacks with 12.5, and forced fumbles with six. Undrafted out of Arkansas State in 2017, Odom has spent time with a few different NFL teams. He did suit up seven games for the Packers in 2017, and four games for Washington in 2019. In those 11 games, Odom recorded 16 combined tackles and two sacks to go along with a forced fumble.
LB Christian Sam (New Orleans Breakers)
Sam was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots out of Arizona State back in 2018, but never played in a regular-season game. He spent time on the practice squads of three other NFL franchises afterwards. Sam was actually drafted by the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits, but was released and then claimed by the Breakers. According to the USFL's press release, the Texas native recorded 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss and an interception in nine games played for the Breakers.
WR/KR KaVontae Turpin (New Jersey Generals)
Dallas held a workout for Turpin only days ahead of training camp and clearly liked what they saw, adding to what he put on film during the inaugural USFL season, when he led that league with 540 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 44 receptions in 10 games. He added 184 punt return yards and could be used in that role with the Cowboys.
TE Sal Cannella (New Orleans Breakers)
A 6-foot-5, 242-pound All-USFL tight end, Cannella caught 34 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games played for the Breakers. He started his college career at Scottsdale Community College in 2016, and then played for Auburn.
WR Osirus Mitchell (Birmingham Stallions)
A USFL champion, Mitchell caught 23 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games played. The Mississippi State product went undrafted in 2021, and was on the practice squad of the Cowboys for the majority of last season.
WR Ishmael Hyman (Michigan Panthers)
The Packers are clearly interested in receivers. Hyman played his college ball at Kansas and James Madison before going undrafted in 2018. He spent time with the Browns, Buccaneers and Panthers, and actually played two games for the Buccaneers in 2019, catching two passes for 34 yards.
QB Kyle Sloter (New Orleans Breakers)
Sloter went undrafted in 2017 out of Northern Colorado, but has bounced around the NFL quite a bit. He's made stops with the Broncos, Vikings, Cardinals, Lions, Bears, and Raiders before this latest stint with the Jaguars. For the Breakers, Sloter passed for 1,798 yards, which was the second highest mark in the league. He also completed 168 of his 291 throws for nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
WR Isaiah Zuber (Houston Gamblers)
Zuber went undrafted in 2020 after playing college football at Kansas State and Mississippi State, but did get a chance with the Patriots. He played four games in his rookie season, catching two passes for 29 yards and rushing twice for 21 yards. However, Zuber was waived the next preseason before bouncing around a few practice squads. With the Gamblers this season, Zuber led all USFL players with five receiving touchdowns and led Houston with 322 receiving yards on 22 catches.
CB Ike Brown (New Orleans Breakers)
A Florida International product, Brown signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2020. However, he actually quickly retired, saying he fell out of love with playing. Brown then returned to football and recorded 16 tackles and two interceptions for the Breakers this past season.
DE Carlo Kemp (Pittsburgh Maulers)
Kemp recorded five sacks and 51 total tackles for Pittsburgh. He went undrafted out of Michigan last year, but had a cup of coffee with the Packers and the Broncos' practice squad. He's also the nephew of Chuck Pagano.
QB Luis Perez (New Jersey Generals)
New Jersey's top quarterback threw for 1,200 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception in nine USFL games played. After going undrafted in 2018 out of Texas A&M-Commerce, it was actually the Rams that gave him his first NFL opportunity, but he was cut from the roster after the preseason. Perez played in the AAF, the XFL and the USFL.
New England Patriots
DL Jeremiah Pharms (Pittsburgh Maulers)
Pharms recorded 31 tackles and two sacks for the Maulers this season, per CBS News. He played his college ball at Friends University.
DL Doug Costin (Birmingham Stallions)
Costin went undrafted out of Miami University in 2020, but caught on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 13 games played with nine starts over two seasons, he recorded 33 combined tackles and three tackles for loss. Costin spent most of the 2021 season on the practice squad, and actually later spent a week on the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad in January.
TE Bug Howard (Philadelphia Stars)
The Bucs are taking a flier on one of the most intriguing USFL players, signing 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end Johnathan "Bug" Howard. He led the Stars in receiving yards with 371, and touchdown catches with four. Overall, he finished seventh in the USFL in receiving yards, and tied for second in receiving touchdowns.
Undrafted out of UNC in 2017, the 27-year-old tight end/wide receiver hybrid bounced around with a handful of NFL teams, and now gets a chance with the Buccaneers.
CB Shakur Brown (Pittsburgh Maulers)
Undrafted out of Michigan State last year, Brown spent time with the Steelers, Chiefs and Lions practice squads before joining the Maulers. Listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, he recorded 36 total tackles and one pass defended in nine USFL games played.
CB Channing Stribling (Philadelphia Stars)
Undrafted out of Michigan, the 27-year-old Stribling has spent time with the practice squads of a handful of NFL teams. While he played in just seven USFL games due to injuries, he led the league in interceptions with seven.
CB DeJuan Neal (New Jersey Generals)
Neal actually spent time with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2019, but was cut. He played his college ball at Division II Shepherd University.