The XFL has a policy in place barring players from leaving midseason to sign with NFL teams, a league spokesperson told FOX Business on Wednesday. That means standout performers like Houston Roughnecks quarterback PJ Walker, who threw four touchdowns in his XFL debut last weekend, won't be able to sign elsewhere until their team's season is over.
"They are free to go to any league once their season ends," the XFL spokesperson said.
The XFL plays a 10-week regular season and a two-week postseason. The league's championship game is scheduled for April 26, just one day after the 2020 NFL Draft.
If offered a contract by an NFL team, XFL players will have a few months to prepare for the season. NFL training camps typically begin in late July.
For most XFL players, even a minimum NFL contract would mark an increase in pay. The average XFL player is expected to earn about $55,000 during the 2020 season, with star players, such as quarterbacks, earning up to $500,000.
By comparison, the NFL's minimum salary for the 2020 season will be $510,000.
Unlike its predecessor, which folded in 2001, the current incarnation of the XFL has not positioned itself as a direct competitor to the NFL. However, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck noted last December that the league would retain its star players during the season.
"Once a player signs a contract — once he passes his physical and signs a contract — then he's under contract with us," Luck told the Tampa Bay Times. "We won't release that player to the NFL until after our season. We need certainty. We can't just have guys peeling off."
At the time, Luck said the XFL had already rebuffed overtures from the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers to the Roughnecks’ Walker and Dallas Renegades quarterback Landry Jones.