Steelers HC Mike Tomlin In Favor Of New Developmental League

If another NFL developmental league ever comes to fruition, it will have the blessing of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

“I’m in favor of anything that increases opportunities for guys to grow and develop, and ultimately improve the product of our game for our fans, particularly at some positions,” said Tomlin, according to a recent story dedicated to the topic by the Associated Press.

While the now-defunct NFL Europe failed to produce a lot of household names during its existence, it did produce two Super Bowl quarterbacks in Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme, and that did not go unnoticed by Tomlin.

“Quarterbacks often don’t come to you ready-made, particularly with the way college football is played now with so many spread offenses and half-field reads and so forth,” Tomlin said.

According to the AP report, the NFL’s new head of football operations, Troy Vincent, said he’s received more than 100 proposals since stating this past April that the league has interests in establishing another developmental league.

“It would be an opportunity to enhance our game on many levels, to develop the future, preserve and innovate the game,” Vincent was quoted as saying.

According to the report, a centrally located spring league with no more than eight teams might be the best option as not to interfere with college games or NFL training camps. In order to keep the cost down in such a league, travel expenses would also need to be monitored.

“I do envision some sort of developmental league, based maybe in Florida or Texas or Arizona,” said former NFL general manager Phil Savage, who now is the executive director of the Senior Bowl. “Anywhere from four to six teams; I don’t think more than eight.”

A new developmental league still appears to have several obstacles that it will need to overcome, but it sounds like one could very will wind up being in place by the end of the decade and maybe sooner.

“I think it could be a really neat thing and can help a lot of players,” Savage said.

  • Lil Smitty

    Texas, Alabama, and other SEC states would work. Put one in LA to satisfy that market. But! Would it be NCAA part II or playing NFL type offense and Defense?

  • SteelersDepot

    That’s a good question.

  • Caesar

    I’ve never understood why the NFL doesn’t just implement a minor league like MLB. I’m sure there is enough interest in football for smaller tier cities to sustain a minor league team like AAA baseball. Farm systems with call ups and such instead would be interesting as well in terms of rosters–disabled list, call ups, send downs, etc.

  • cp72

    I would like to see a farm system where each team could allocate a certain amount of players. Each team could send 8 guys. That would be close to 250 players which is about 5 teams. Have a 6th team made up of guys not currently on an NFL roster that are looking to catch someone’s eye. I would watch that in a heartbeat.

  • Jason White

    I would think they would use pro style offenses and defenses otherwise what would they be developing them for a college return? lol That’s why if I was a college coach I would use nothing but pro style offenses. While option and spread offenses are exciting to watch they do very little to prepare kids for the NFL. You end up with a bunch of raw athletes in need of further developing and many of these players struggle to find their place in the NFL.

  • shawn

    Caesar … this is so simple its “GENIUS” … I’ve been saying for years they should implement a minor league system like MLB and alter it to the needs of the NFL …. it is such a beautiful idea … small teams that are not oriented to making $$$ but a farm system for the NFL … small towns, small crowds and small stadiums ….

    Unlike all these other leagues … there would already be a Fan Base instilled … so attendance & interest shouldnt be a problem … I for one would love to see it … nothing like going to a minor league game … often more fun than the majors … very enjoyable !

    and because its a farm system, salaries would be low and because of the already high interest in the NFL income & attendance should and would do well … and just to make sure the NFL could set a small amount to subsidize the league … you could break up the conferences and divisions into regions into 5 or 6 around the country minimizing travel time and costs and each team in each region could play the other 5-6 members twice to give it a full season of around 10 games or so !

  • shawn

    Dave …. if you get a chance look at my post below & tell me what u think … I, like Caesar never have understood why the NFL doesn’t follow after MLB and institute a modified farm system … it solves the problem of a fan base and would instantly gain acceptance as well as credibility … not to mention i think it would be a boon for smaller towns with endless possibilities !

  • SteelersDepot

    Impossible for me to answer as to why, but it has to come down to money and the NFLPA somehow.

  • I love the idea.. They would have to work out some major details.. I always thought guys like Landry Jones and some 3rd strong guys could benefit from playing some more games I don’t think they play enough snaps in preseason

  • Bob

    I would hope the fact that the majority of any college teams’ players are not going to, or even particularly want to, have an NFL career after college is the main reason college coaches don’t focus overly much on making players NFL ready. Unfortunately, it is more likely due to their own self-interest in that they want to keep systems relatively simple so they can get their best athletes on the field as soon as possible so THEY can win , and keep their job.

  • patrick Mayfield

    Couple points:

    1. The spring timing makes sense since there is no other football to compete with and you would want this league to feed into the NFL season. However with the draft at the end of April, there’s no time for rookie participation and they would need to wait 9 months. If you started in December, have camps through mid Feb then play for 8-12 weeks in March/April/May, then this would feed into OTA activities nicely.

    2. Where’s the incentive for the NFL? I find it hard to believe a better product would yield much better ratings and cashflow. If the league allows it but makes it optional, then teams could pursue this to gain competitive advantage. The league would be helped to dominate news year round if they have some activity in the pre-draft calendar.

    3. To what extent is NFLPA buy in needed? If the dev league is not self sustaining, they need a slice of revenue to support it. NFLPA is full of guys who made it without a dev league so they might be less than sympathetic to a league that makes players to push for their jobs in camp. Teams will retain rights to the players in the dev leauge with some path to active rosters so I would think they would be part of the NFLPA off the bat.

  • Lil Smitty

    I just thought of another benefit. Referee training in the off season. They won’t have instant replay, but the rest of the rules would be the same.

  • whisn

    great opportunity for Browns players to win something!

  • joed32

    I don’t know but I’ve always felt that if Troy played “center field” he would have rivaled Ed Reed for the most pics by a safety.

  • Lewis

    What would you rather do, be on the practice squad of an NFL team, or be a starter on a minor league team?

  • steelster

    just use the arena league.