Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones is the first player to sign with the XFL in advance of its 2020 relaunch, the league announced on Thursday.
Jones, 30, was the Steelers fourth-round draft pick in 2013 and played in 19 games and made five starts for the Steelers from 2013 to 2017. He went 3-2 in his five starts and completed 63.9% of his passes for the Steelers, but lost his backup job last year to Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph.
“I’m looking forward to joining the XFL and playing the game I love,” Jones said in a press release. “I can’t wait to suit-up.”
He spent three weeks with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2018 season following an injury to Blake Bortles and spent two months with the Oakland Raiders this spring before being released on May 22.
The league, which will start play in the spring, comes in the wake of the AAF, a spring league that didn’t even make it through one season while attempting to start up in 2019. No AAF quarterback had as much NFL experience as Jones will bring to the XFL. His salary was not disclosed.
“We’re excited to welcome Landry to the XFL as our first player and first quarterback,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said. “He’s an accomplished athlete with outstanding college credentials and pro experience, and his heart and desire to play football epitomizes the type of individual we want in the XFL.”
The league will sign seven other quarterbacks before the teams draft out of the signed player pool this October. The league will launch with franchises in Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.
The XFL will attempt to make inroads in larger markets after the failure of the AAF, which largely relied on mid-sized cities. The folded league had teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego.
The original XFL lasted just one season in 2001 and was known for its innovate rules and personality driven broadcasts. Both leagues came under the auspices of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. The new league is expected to focus more on traditional football and less on innovation.
The Steelers signed several players that played in the original AAF, including safety Kameron Kelly, who appears to have an inside track on a roster spot. Offensive lineman JC Hassenauer, defensive linemen Winston Craig and Casey Sayles and linebacker J.T. Jones also played in the spring league.