The XFL and USFL are in talks to merge the two spring leagues for 2024, according to Axois, and an announcement could come as early as next week.
The re-branded USFL just completed its second season and has already begun preparations for the 2024 season. The XFL (in its third reincarnation following seasons in 2001 and 2020) finished its first season this past spring and had also confirmed plans for a 2024 season.
Both leagues currently carry eight teams that played 10-week regular season schedules with two playoff rounds culminating in a championship game. The two leagues also have similar rules that include an onside kick alternative, giving the scoring team a chance to keep the ball by converting a fourth-down from deep in its own territory.
So, what would happen in a merger? Scheduling is one of the main differences between the two teams. The XFL's 2023 season started on Feb. 19 and ran through May 13. The USFL started the 2023 season on April 15 and capped it off with the Birmingham Stallions' successful title defense on July 1.
Both leagues enjoyed steady viewership in 2023, with the USFL and XFL each exceeding 1.2 million viewers for their respective championship games. Both leagues have also enjoyed successful partnerships with the NFL. Several former players from both leagues -- most notably Cowboys All-Pro returner and USFL alum KaVontae Turpin -- have been employed by NFL teams.
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If a merge does happen, it appears that players would be in favor of it. J'Mar Smith, who quarterbacked the Birmingham Stallions to its first title in 2022, said in April that he would be in favor of at the end of their respective seasons.
"That would be nice and what the fans want," Smith said in a text message to CBS Sports. "Merging two spring pro leagues, champion vs. champion, to see the competition between the two leagues. ... I think it should happen and will soon!"
If the leagues merge, game broadcasts could be split between Fox (which currently has a deal with the USFL) and Disney, the XFL's media partner. It's unknown whether NBC -- which also has a broadcast agreement with the USFL -- will be involved moving forward.
When asked about a potential merger, Fox representatives declined comment.