Four USFL stars with best chance to make NFL roster

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Peter King is on vacation until July 18, and he lined up some guest writers to fill his Monday spot on Football Morning in America. Today’s guest is Paul Burmeister, a play-by-play voice and studio host for NBC Sports.

So with acknowledgement that I may have buried the lead, let’s get right to it: Which USFL players will we see in the NFL this fall?

I went right to the source: Jim Popp, USFL Director of Player Personnel. Playing defensive back at Michigan State for Nick Saban in the mid-80s set up Popp for more than three decades in professional football personnel, primarily in the Canadian Football League, where he was a part of 11 Grey Cups, winning five of them.

“The NFL isn’t coming [to the USFL] looking for a starters,” Popp told me. “The potential for these players lies in the back end of an NFL roster, which is constantly being overturned.”

Popp followed up with two points to keep in mind when considering which USFL players might be in the NFL this fall:

• Because of Covid and the extra season of eligibility granted to college players, the pool of undrafted free agent rookies was larger than ever.

• The abundance of young, available and willing players would cost the teams less money than signing USFL players. According to Spotrac, the minimum salary for rookies this season is $705,000; second-year players $870,000; third-year players $940,000.

Since most of the players in the USFL have had an NFL cup of coffee, or two or three, they’re more expensive. They potentially fill the same roster spot and play the same role for more money.

Those hurdles are reality this summer. But they’re not barriers. They won’t prevent the USFL’s best from getting a shot.

So, who will get the chance to beat the odds?

Michigan Panthers RB Reggie Corbin led the USFL in rushing yards. (Getty Images)

Michigan Panthers RB Reggie Corbin

Corbin was the first name out of Popp’s mouth. The Panthers running back led the USFL in rushing yards per game.

I called his final regular season game last week against the Pittsburgh Maulers.  The Pittsburgh head coach is Kirby Wilson, who spent 23 seasons as an NFL running backs coach. With his RB expertise, I asked, “Which running back impressed you the most this season?” He answered quickly: Reggie Corbin.

I also asked Corbin’s own coach, Jeff Fisher, an NFL head coach of 20 seasons, which of his Panthers players belonged in the NFL. He started with Corbin.

Corbin, 26, is still waiting for his first shot in the NFL. He averaged 6 yards per carry in rushing for over 2,000 yards at Illinois from 2016-19. But Corbin didn’t play in a game of any kind from 2020 until the USFL this spring.

His one and only NFL chance became a Covid casualty. The Seahawks flew in Corbin for a workout late in 2021, but when he tested positive for Covid upon arrival in Seattle. Instead of going to the facility to try out, he went to a hotel. For a week and half, he waited for the green light. The Covid cases were so high in the NFL at that point of the season, he was sent home, before he could even work out.

“Heartbreaking” was the last word he said to me about that experience.

So now he awaits a call, confident it will come. “I’m grateful for the USFL,” Corbin told me.

Houston Gamblers LB Donald Payne

Donald Payne came in with an NFL résumé that got my attention before the season started.

  • Four seasons in the NFL
  • 30 games played

In 2017 for the Jaguars, Payne was in the top three for special teams tackles in the NFL. He stuck with Jacksonville in 2018, and in 2019, he started the last five games of the season. Payne produced at an eye-opening level, recording at least 12 tackles in all five games.

But Payne needed surgery on both feet after the season, and the Jaguars released him prior to the 2020 season. He spent some time on the Washington practice squad that year and went to training camp with San Francisco in 2021 but didn’t make the team.

The USFL gave Payne a chance to prove he was healthy, and to remind NFL scouts that even as an undersized middle linebacker (6-0, 225), he wouldn’t get swallowed up inside, could fend off 330-pound linemen and run down backs.


“We all came to the USFL with different whys,” Payne told me. “Mine wasn’t to get back to an NFL camp. I’m on a mission to get back to an NFL 53.”

Two games into the USFL season, Payne served notice, racking up 34 tackles. By the end of the season, he was the only USFL player with over 100. “I needed the USFL to portray I’m still the same Donald I was in 2019,” he said. “I did what I had to do.”

The odds are against Payne and his USFL comrades as they eye roster spots in the NFL. But Johnston brought up a point to consider.

“Our guys are in football shape,” Johnston said. “That’s an advantage versus players who have been in shorts and have only done minicamps and OTAs. I’m excited to see what happens when the pads come on because they’re already used to it.”

New Jersey Generals WR/PR KaVontae Turpin

Turpin, the USFL MVP, led the league in receiving yards on a team that ran the ball more than any other in the league. And he showed his game-breaking abilities over the weekend with a punt return touchdown against Philadelphia in the semifinals.


In production meetings, New Jersey coach Mike Reilly spoke of how much fun he was having devising different ways to get Turpin the ball.

Popp almost ran out of ways to describe him: “Electric. Fast. Quick. Makes you miss. Can take a hit.”

I think Turpin is an excellent candidate to make a team as a fourth or fifth wide receiver, and primary punt returner.

Houston Gamblers DE Chris Odom

Odom led the league in sacks and forced fumbles. Not bad for a player whose calling card was stopping the run before getting to the USFL.

Odom is 27 and has NFL experience with Atlanta, Washington and Green Bay. When I asked him which of those stops made the biggest impression on him, he didn’t hesitate: Green Bay.

Odom was with the Packers for the 2017 season. He had always been a “hand on the ground” defensive end, but in Green Bay’s scheme, defensive ends Clay Matthews and Nick Perry stood up, often looking like outside linebackers. This gave Odom a whole new view of the offense and a compete skill set as a defensive end. He displayed that in dominating the USFL this spring.

Read more in the full Football Morning in America column

How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

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It’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, October 2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida–a rematch of Super Bowl LV where Tom Brady earned his seventh ring. Sunday’s matchup marks the sixth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Brady with the 45-year-old veteran holding a 3-2 edge in the series.

Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season last Sunday after falling 20-17 to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City struggled offensively in Week 3 as the team was held to just three points in the second half. The Chiefs are still working to fill the void in the passing game since trading star WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in the offseason but according to Mahomes, that doesn’t excuse Sunday’s loss.

RELATED: Patrick Mahomes –  I don’t expect growing pains, offense has to gel together

“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes told reporters at ESPN.com. “Obviously have new players and you don’t know everybody’s going to respond to tough situations. . . . We’ve got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it.”

Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension, in July 2020–the richest contract in American sports history by total value–is in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and hopes to lead Kansas City to its seventh straight AFC West title. The Chiefs are the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady and the Buccaneers (2-1) are also coming off their first loss of the season–a 14-12 defeat at home from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last Sunday afternoon. With WRs Mike Evans (suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring)–Brady’s top two targets–and Julio Jones (knee) out in Week 3, Tampa Bay’s offense racked up a total of just 285 yards in the loss. Additionally, the team is still adapting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason. Despite some challenges on offense, Tampa Bay’s defense has remained consistent and currently leads the NFL in scoring defense (9.0 pts/gm) and also ranks in the top 5 in total defense.

RELATED: Todd Bowles asks NFL to explain clock issues on delay of game, says Bucs have to get the snap off


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers–a rematch of Super Bowl LV. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

RELATED: How to watch/live stream Chiefs vs Buccaneers game


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 3 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!