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Reports: Pittsburgh Maulers Left Out of USFL-XFL Merger



Pittsburgh Maulers Helmet

The Pittsburgh Maulers appear to be one of the teams that is getting the axe as part of the USFL-XFL merger, which was approved by federal regulators on Thursday.

The two spring leagues are set to merge for play this spring. Each league currently has eight franchises. 

The XFL has teams in Arlington, Houston, Las Vegas, Orlando, St. Louis, San Antonio, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The USFL has eight teams in four cities. The Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars played in Detroit last season, the Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers played in Birmingham, Alabama, the Houston Gamblers and Memphis Showboats played in Memphis and the Pittsburgh Maulers and New Jersey Generals played in Canton, Ohio.

Multiple reports have said that only eight teams will survive the merger this spring, with teams in Arlington, Birmingham, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, St. Louis, San Antonio and Washington D.C. playing in 2024.

The Las Vegas, New Jersey, New Orleans, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Seattle will reportedly be placed on hiatus. There is no word what will happen to players already signed to those clubs.

The leagues have not made any official announcements about the merger. In fact, the teams were still signing players as of Thursday, as the Maulers announced the signing of safety Bryce Torneden.

The Maulers had already announced several signings for 2024: defensive tackle Terry Beckner, center Sean Brown, center Xavier Dampeer, outside linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, guard Jon Dietzen, safety Malcolm Elmore, tackle Justin Evans, cornerback Keith Gipson, tackle Brodarious Hamm, wide receiver Isiah Hennie, outside linebacker Malcolm Howard, running back Madre London, defensive tackle Will Miles, defensive tackle Christopher Okoye, wide receiver Diondre Overton, offensive lineman Brayden Patton, defensive end Nasir Player, tight end Matt Seybert, running back Rodney Smith, free safety Eli Walker, wide receiver Tre Walker, outside linebacker Dale Warren, running back Trey Williams.

The Maulers returned with the reborn USFL in 2022. They played their first season, as did the rest of the league, at one site in Birmingham in the first season. Former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant Kirby Wilson was the head coach as the team went 1-9 in its first season back. 

The club moved to Canton in 2023 and swapped Wilson for another former Steelers assistant coach, Ray Horton. Horton led the team to a 4-6 record, but the Maulers snuck into the playoffs and advanced all the way to the USFL championship game thanks to a stifling defense.

The club had not announced where it intended to play in 2024. The USFL had always maintained that it eventually planned on returning all of its historic franchises to their home cities. The original Pittsburgh Maulers played one season in the original USFL in 1984.