Can AAF players earn NFL roster spots?
During his stints with four NFL franchises in three years, San Antonio Commanders quarterback Dustin Vaughan noticed a “huge discrepancy” within the rosters.
The gap was not because of talent, Vaughan said. Everyone at the NFL level has ability. Instead, Vaughan felt an enormous chasm in leadership, experience and pay.
The Alliance of American Football has evened the odds.
“You have to fight through those things, especially when you’re starting your way into the NFL,” Vaughan said. “In this league, everybody is really put on a level playing field, which is awesome. You’re not looking at guys thinking, ‘I can’t develop a relationship; he’s been in the league for 10-plus years.’”
Expected to be the starting quarterback as San Antonio opens its inaugural season against the San Diego Fleet at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Alamodome, Vaughan has an opportunity he never found with the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens.
He and the rest of the players in the Alliance of American Football stand on even ground with a showcase to prove they deserve a spot in the NFL.
“I’m fighting for the same thing that these guys are,” Vaughan said. “You don’t necessarily get that experience in the NFL, to gain the playing experience that we need to move up.”
Most of the Commanders’ roster is composed of former undrafted free agents or late-round picks. Some appeared in NFL games in a reserve role or on special teams. Others were cut during training camp. Some didn’t get that far.