Aug 12, 2013; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (34) participates during training camp drills at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Would Fall Development League Help Pittsburgh Steelers?

The mothership of FanSided.com reported on Tuesday morning that the fall development league that’s been discussed for quite some time now is good to go for Fall 2014 – specifically in October.  If this league has a successful start and can last longer than other ‘sub’ leagues around the globe, does a league like this benefit teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Fansided sites the Charlotte Observer:

The Fall Experimental Football League plans to launch in October as a developmental league, with no NFL affiliation but with lots of intriguing ideas…. Our long-term goal is to establish a partnership with the NFL, and we feel can do that on many platforms.  It would give them a way to work with younger players that they don’t currently have.  We can help them train prospective NFL officials — in the NBA, every referee entering the league (in recent years) comes from NBA Developmental League… We can be a testing ground for proposed rules, too.

I’m very intrigued by the Development League – named the FXFL (don’t cringe at the X part, it has nothing to do with WWE) – yet weary about it as well.  On the one hand, this could be a great mechanism to act as a strainer for those young athletes that either don’t make the cut or don’t get drafted and just need some time to develop into players that later have solid contributions.  Not every case will be a Cinderella story, but this league could be a very valuable backup farm for teams around the league.  It could help keep the quality of backup play high.  Teams could call up a lineman if they find out a starter would be out for a few weeks with a muscle strain, etc.

However, on the other hand, this kind of system hinges greatly upon the cooperation of Roger Goodell and the rest of the league.  And you know if Big Ginger is involved, then there needs to be a profit margin.  This is where things could turn ugly and a utopian ‘minor league’ for the NFL could become just a way to funnel more money to an already abundantly full bank account.  Could this become the very thing that will oversaturate the market and kill the NFL?

There will probably be a middle ground to all of this (I hope), and at the very least this league will a way for teams to find some talent outside of the draft that they may not have picked up or lost to free agency along the way.  I’m sure the NFL and the FXFL can find a way to fit some sort of waiver system that allows players from the FXFL to become eligible for selection into the NFL.  Not really a draft – though that’s where Goody Goody can tap into that market for some cash flow.

Would a system like this help the Steelers?  I think it depends on how the system is set up.  The Steelers love to develop players and then get them on the squad.  If they can have a ‘team’ that is a virtual ‘mini-Steelers’ squad, then this could greatly benefit the Black and Gold.  If it’s a system that is a secondary developmental draft where teams have no influence whatsoever on how these guys develop, then I think it will be rather ineffective – for just about most teams that aren’t starving for talent.

This is a system where the Steelers brass could find an extra corner to put on the roster like most of Steeler Nation was clamoring for all the way back to February.  No need to spend tons of cash on a free agent who might not pay off, and no need to use up an early rookie pick who could become a complete bust early on.  It. Could. Work.

What do the rest of yinz think?  In favor of or not interested in a developmental league for players?

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