Veteran NFL backup Josh Johnson was among three new quarterbacks signed by the XFL on Friday ahead of a supplemental round to its inaugural draft, raising the total of league-distributed quarterbacks to 11.
Johnson, who started three games for the Washington Redskins in 2018, will join the Los Angeles Wildcats. He also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — with teams going 1-7 in his eight career starts — since he was drafted in 2008.
The other quarterbacks signed by the XFL on Friday are Taylor Heinicke, an NFL backup for parts of four seasons who will join the St. Louis Battlehawks, and Chase Litton, who has spent parts of the past two seasons on NFL practice squads and will join the Seattle Dragons.
Most XFL players will be selected by teams through the draft, but the league is assigning its top-level quarterbacks to ensure parity. Its previous distribution included Landry Jones (Dallas Renegades), Cardale Jones (D.C. Defenders) and Matt McGloin (New York Guardians).
Some XFL quarterbacks will earn up to $500,000 annually, a figure the league needed to hit to coax some of them away from NFL practice squads. The standard base salary for players at all other positions is $27,000 for 10 games.
Friday’s supplemental draft will allow each team to push its roster to 70 players in preparation for mini-camps next month. A total of 561 players were selected in the XFL’s October draft, but since then, at least one player — defensive end Corey Vereen — has backed out because of the league’s pay scale. A handful of other draft picks have since signed with NFL practice squads.
Players who sign contracts to participate in minicamp will agree not to return to the NFL for the remaining weeks of the season.
The league announced this week that all eight teams will conduct training camp in the Houston area for three weeks in January. The XFL’s first weekend of games is Feb. 8-9, 2020.