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PFW exclusive: Alliance of American Football contracts will include ‘NFL outs’

July 28, 2018

Alliance of American Football founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian sent a letter to NFLPA-certified agents this week — a copy of which Pro Football Weekly has reviewed — which outlines a financial structure for player salaries and how the league plans to deal with players who receive NFL interest after joining.

The eight-team league, which they’re calling to “The Alliance” for short, kicks off following the Super Bowl in February. It’s a league-controlled, single entity that will feature a 10-game regular-season schedule and four-team postseason in 2019 with broadcast rights owned by CBS. It will be capped by a championship game on the weekend of April 26-28 — the same weekend that the 2019 NFL draft will be going on.

Uniform player contracts will be for three years for a total of $250,000 — with annual salaries of $70,000, $80,000, and $100,000 in the first, second, and third seasons, respectively.

Players who opt to take part in The Alliance will not be locked into contract the way they are in other professional leagues, such as the Canadian Football League. If an Alliance player receives a formal contract offer from an NFL team, they’ll be allowed to leave following The Alliance season. That window will remain open for players to leave an Alliance team for the NFL between the championship game in April up until the first day of December of that same year.

There also, the Alliance document reveals, will be a unique bonus system in which players will receive additional money for:

* Winning games

* Being selected by fans of The Alliance to fantasy teams

* Social media engagement with fans (across social media platforms)

* Participation in marketing the league

* Sales of player’s merchandise (merchandise featuring the player’s name, likeness, and image)

* Sales of player’s team merchandise

During AAF training camps, players will learn about the specifics of the bonus system and how to maximize their ability to increase bonuses. The Alliance is planning workshops with league’s marketing, digital and communications teams on how to do just that.

Alliance training camps all will be in a central location, PFW has learned. Players will receive travel stipends, per diems and all meals and lodging will be covered as well. There also will be health benefits, including post-football career planning and counseling.

Interestingly, Alliance officials refer to the NFL in the letter as the “Approved Alternative League.” There’s little question that the Alliance is going head on against the NFL — as well as the reformed XFL, which kicks off in 2020 — for players and fans.

This unique marketing and bonus structure is an interesting approach to try to reward players. Other bonuses include players receiving a full year’s worth of scholarship assistance for post-secondary or vocational education for every full season they complete with the league.

The Alliance is going forward with the 2019 season, which will begin with a set of three regional combines in Los Angeles, Houston, and Atlanta. The league’s scouting officials and coaches will attend those events to help pick players, and roster construction will be augmented following the NFL cutdown day on September 1. The Alliance hopes to have minicamps begin late this year, with training camps opening in January 2019.

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