The CFL and XFL hope to return at some point in the near future after COVID-19 wrecked their individual seasons in 2020. What that will look like remains to be seen, but the two leagues are entering into discussions to "identify potential opportunities ... to collaborate, innovate, and grow the game of football."
Exactly what these innovations and collaborations will yield remains to be seen, though there doesn't appear to be any discussion of a merger. Each league has its own sets of rules, some of which were popular among fans. The XFL, for instance, tweaked kickoff rules to make it safer without making it a useless play. Shootout style overtime rules and the double forward pass were also well received.
The XFL was midway through its first season in nearly 20 years when the coronavirus pandemic halted operations and eventually bankrupted it. With the pandemic still raging throughout the summer, the CFL canceled its 2020 season. Under new ownership (i.e. The Rock), the XFL had hopes to debut -- for a third time -- as soon as 2022. But according to a statement from the league those efforts are "on hold" pending the outcome of its conversations with the CFL, which plans to return this year.
From @DanyGarciaCo, XFL Chairwoman and Owner: pic.twitter.com/bBlzGYbw1w— XFL (@XFL2022) March 10, 2021
Though these discussions don't mean anything just yet, they represent a heartbeat for alternative pro football leagues. As we've seen with the XFL and the AAF before it, it doesn't take much for these leagues to go belly up. At the same time, the demand for them, with niches for gambling and fantasy football, is impossible to ignore.