By Emily Kaplan, The MMQB, Jan. 19, 2017
Don Yee, known best as Tom Brady’s agent, is laying the groundwork for an NFL developmental league with his Pacific Pro League, providing an alternative for college players with an emphasis on an NFL style of football. Why this league might work, and what it means to the draft scene.

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For years, NFL coaches, front office personnel and players on the fringes of rosters have griped over the absence of a developmental league. Even some in the NFL league office, most notably VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent, have joined the chorus.

A D-league, following the spirit of NFL Europe, could provide a haven for dozens of players struggling to navigate the choppy waters between college and professional football. And for those players, last week brought a welcome announcement. Don Yee, best known as Tom Brady’s agent, revealed he is launching a new professional league. Yee’s Pacific Pro Football aims to begin play in 2018, with four teams based in Southern California. This is not the conventional developmental league Vincent has called for, but it is an intriguing complement.

The Pacific Pro League would only employ players not yet eligible for the NFL. Players would receive, on average, $50,000 a year, though multiple people briefed on the idea stressed there might not be a cap (a star running back, for example, could earn $100,000, plus an opportunity for endorsements). Yee has promised that the style and schemes would mimic professional football, not college.

“I’d still like to see a more traditional D-league, but if this actually comes through, those two entities can co-exist,” explains a high-ranking executive in an NFL front office. “Yee’s league seems like a promising concept. It addresses a few areas of concern we’ve been seeing [regarding] the gap between college and our game. I’m looking forward to hearing more about it.” Adds The MMQB’s Andrew Brandt: “We’ve seen professional leagues come and go, but it has always competed with the NFL product. This project, in a sense, is competing with college.”


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