With the NFL in offseason mode and the latest version of the XFL in full swing, many eyes are turning to season No. 2 of the USFL. With Week 1 fast approaching, let’s walk through how many teams are in the USFL, future scheduling plans, and whether the league might consider expanding.
How Many USFL Teams Are There?
There are eight total USFL teams in the 2023 season:
- Birmingham Stallions
- Houston Gamblers
- Memphis Showboats
- Michigan Panthers
- New Jersey Generals
- New Orleans Breakers
- Philadelphia Stars
- Pittsburgh Maulers
Seven of the eight teams that will be playing this season were part of last year’s long-awaited relaunch. The eighth team — the Tampa Bay Bandits — relocated to Memphis and are now known as the Showboats.
Will the USFL Add More Teams in the Future?
Before looking ahead to what the league can do in terms of expansion in the future, they will need to successfully complete a second full season. The 2022 relaunch was a big deal for an entity created four decades earlier to much fanfare. Those old USFL teams of the early-to-mid 1980s actively competed with the NFL for talent.
While the new USFL is not legally connected to the 1980s version, which still technically exists under separate ownership, the new USFL owns a sufficient quantity of trademarks to be branded as a USFL entity.
Given the adversity confronting the USFL — including a sustained pandemic that had ended the season of its sister league, the XFL, only two years earlier — the debut season could be deemed a success.
Jordan Ta’amu lit up the league with superior dual-threat QB play. A year later, he’s helping lead the undefeated DC Defenders of the XFL. Similarly, Sal Cannella was snatched up by the XFL’s Arlington Renegades last November and presently is tied for fourth in that league in receptions. QBs Kyle Sloter and Luis Perez also became XFL starters.
The NFL also took notice, with various teams locking in contracts with notable USFL performers. For example, the Cowboys signed Generals standout KaVontae Turpin, who dominated the USFL with a 44-540-4 receiving line in 10 regular season games. He went on to become Dallas’s primary kickoff and punt returner last season.
As for possibly expanding the league, back in 2021 — when the new USFL was still in its infancy — Executive Vice President Daryl Johnston suggested that if the league could successfully enter a second or third season, then expansion would be a distinct possibility. There have been rumors, for example, that Denver and Oakland could be on a shortlist for future expansion.
“Success” is the key here. No one yet knows if the new USFL is here to stay. Fox Sports has an all-important minority stake, bringing more stability to a league that needs a growing fan base — and more eyes on their games — to reach the next level.
One of the biggest differences in 2023 concerns locales for USFL contests. Last year, they focused on playing in Birmingham, Alabama. By playing games in other cities around the country, they’re hoping to exponentially augment interest in the league.
This marks a key next step for the USFL, which surely will examine a range of financial and fan-driven metrics in 2023 to determine if and when expansion teams might bolster the USFL’s long-term prowess.