The NFL competition committee has discussed the possibility of expanding the playoff field and creating an 18-game regular season, but one of the more interesting discussions that could soon be surfacing comes from NFL director of football operations Troy Vincent, who recently addressed interest in a developmental league for the NFL.
“We need to keep the pipeline of talent flowing, and that means for all areas of our game: players, coaches, scouts, game officials,” Vincent told the Associated Press. “I am responsible to look at whatever the competition committee looks at, and that includes a developmental league.
“For all this football talent around, we have to create another platform for developing it. Maybe it’s an academy -- what would it look like? Maybe it’s a spring league; we’ll look to see if there is an appetite for it.”
With so many college underclassmen declaring for the draft in recent years and limited roster spots at the NFL level, adding a developmental league that would serve as the "minors" for the NFL could benefit the growth of the game in the long run.
By allowing players who are not yet ready for the NFL to get in valuable reps under a pro-style coaching staff, teams would be able to send some of their players down to the developmental league until they are ready to contribute to the 53-man roster.
Each team currently has a practice squad, but a potential developmental league would be a much more advanced system of storing and refining unpolished talent. It would be interesting to see whether the NFL would pursue a minor league system that mirrors professional baseball and hockey, with affiliates for all 32 teams, or start with a less ambitious structure with fewer teams. In time, the developmental league could also serve as an alternative option for fans who can't shell out hundreds of dollars for an NFL game and continue to bring in more money for the league.