International Player Pathway Program
The International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) is a scheme run by the National Football League (NFL) to increase the number of non-American and Canadian players in the NFL. The program was formed as part of the NFL's strategy to grow globally as it provides athletes with the opportunity to play in the league which will increase the pool of talent and ultimately drive fan growth globally.
The International Player Pathway Program was not the first initiative by the NFL to introduce foreign talent into its pool of players and neither is it, as yet, the longest running. The first such program was the NFL International Development Practice Squad Program that ran between 2004 and 2009. Following a short hiatus of seven years there was a single incarnation of NFL Undiscovered in 2016 and building immediately on the success of that trial the IPPP was instituted in 2017.
NFL International Development Practice Squad ProgramEdit
The NFL International Practice Squad Program was an initiative run by the NFL in which selected players from outside the United States or Canada were assigned to the practice squads of NFL teams. The program began in 2004 and was concluded five years later in 2009 but during that time many players from a multitude of nations were given the opportunity to play in the NFL or other professional football leagues like the Arena Football League, the United Football League and the Canadian Football League.
- Anders Akerstrom – 2005 New Orleans Saints practice squad
- Klaus Alinen – 2005 Atlanta Falcons practice squad
- Marvin Allen – 2006 & 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2007 Miami Dolphins
- Carl-Johan Björk
- Rolando Cantú – 2005–2006 Arizona Cardinals
- Aden Durde
- Seppo Evwaraye
- Samuel Gutekunst
- Sergey Ivanov
- Noriaki Kinoshita
- Iiro Luoto
- Patrice Majondo-Mwamba – 2005 Denver Broncos
- Christian Mohr
- Manuel Padilla
- Michael Quarshie
- Sébastien Sejean
- Shaun Smith
- Ulrich Winkler – 2006 Cleveland Browns' practice squad and 2007–2008 Tennessee Titans
Two British-born former NFL players Aden Durde (NFLUK head of football development) and two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora were concerned that there were no clear pathways into the NFL for players who had not gone to high-school and/or college in the United States, and, as a result, the NFL was potentially missing out on some exceptional players. Wanting to remedy this, in early 2016, they used their personal and professional contracts from their time in the NFL to create a training program and to set-up meetings and try-outs with NFL teams for a small number of specially selected football players. These players' potential had been scouted primarily by watching YouTube videos. The initial group of players all lived, worked and played amateur football in Europe. At the time, the program was not yet officially named the International Player Pathway, but it was fully sanctioned and supported by the NFL. Additionally, the League had commissioned a mini-series documentary to be made, called NFL Undiscovered, that followed the participants of the program.
In 2017 the IPP was implemented with systems for choosing which division sponsors the program annually, as well as special regulations applying to the teams being assigned the players. The program has grown every year since its launch and, as of 2020, more than half (19 of 32) of all NFL teams have signed international players as a direct result of the program.
Athlete eligibility and applicationEdit
In 2017, potential applicants to NFL Undiscovered were asked to meet specific requirements and were advised to follow a particular application process. Some of these criteria have either changed over time or there is some discretion applied during the selection process, as not all the athletes that have come through the program in the intervening years meet all of the following criteria.
- age 24 or younger
- out of high school (or equivalent) for at least four years
- did not play American football at a US college
- ability to speak English
- not a citizen of the US or Canada
- must be available and eligible to travel to the US for two months from the first week in March
The NFL has specific regulations for players that sign through the IPP. The teams to which each IPP player is assigned are allowed 91 players on their off-season rosters, one more than those teams that are not participating in the IPP that year. At the point when these rosters need to be cut to 53 (at the end of pre-season), the participating teams must decide the status of their IPP players.
First, the team can keep their IPP player on their 53-man roster. If they waive the player, he goes through the NFL's waiver system, which allows him to be claimed by another team. If he clears waivers, the team can sign the player to their practice squad. If they do, they may elect to take an exemption for the IPP player, giving them an extra spot on their practice squad. If they utilize the exemption, that player cannot be signed to the active roster of any team during the season. If the exemption is declined, the player is treated like any other practice squad player, and can be promoted to a team's active roster. If the player chooses to sign with a team other than the one to which he was assigned, that team may not claim the exemption.
|2016||Anthony Dablé ||France||Football||NFL Undiscovered||New York Giants||Wide receiver||2016 – signed as a free agent then released during final roster cuts first player signed in the NFL from NFL Undiscovered|
2017 – signed with Atlanta Falcons and again released at the end of pre-season
|Harry Innis||UK||Football||–||Tight end||–|
|Moritz Böhringer ||Germany||Football||Minnesota Vikings||Wide receiver||2016 – drafted (R6#180) spent season on 10-man practice squad, first player drafted in the NFL from NFL Undiscovered|
2017 – waived by Vikings in September
|2017||Alex Gray||UK||Rugby union||NFC South||Atlanta Falcons||Tight end||2017 – 11th member of practice squad|
2018 – signed to practice squad
2019 – on 2-year futures contract to 2020
|Alex Jenkins||UK||Football||New Orleans Saints||Defensive end||2017 – 11th member of practice squad|
2018 – reserve/futures contract in January and to practice squad
|Eric Nzeocha||Germany||Football||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Linebacker||2017 – 11th member of practice squad|
2018 – reserve/futures contract in January and to practice squad
|Efe Obada||UK||Football||Carolina Panthers||Defensive end||2017 – 11th member of practice squad|
2018 – reserve/futures contract in January and to practice squad, first player to make an NFL 53-man active roster from IPP and play in a regular season game (Sep-23-2018 versus Cincinnati)
2019 – signed 1-year contract
|2018||Moritz Böhringer ||Germany||Football||AFC North||Cincinnati Bengals||Tight end||2018 – 11th member of practice squad and reserve/futures contract|
2019 – again assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)
|Christopher Ezeala ||Germany||Football||Baltimore Ravens||Running back||2018 – 11th member of practice squad|
2019 – re-signed
|Jordan Mailata ||Australia||Rugby league||Philadelphia Eagles||Offensive tackle||2018 – drafted 2018 (R7#233) first player drafted in the NFL from IPP signed 4-year contract, spent season on 53-man roster, injured reserve in December|
2021 Signed four year contract extension with the Eagles
|Tigie Sankoh ||UK||Football||Cleveland Browns||Defensive back||2018 – 11th member of practice squad|
2019 – signed to reserve/futures list in January
|Christian Scotland-Williamson||UK||Rugby union||Pittsburgh Steelers||Tight end||2018 – 11th member of practice squad, terminated in September|
2019 – re-signed
|2019||David Bada||Germany||Football||AFC East||–||Defensive tackle||–|
|Moubarak Djeri ||Germany||Football||–||Defensive end||–|
|Valentine Holmes ||Australia||Rugby league||New York Jets||Running back||2019 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt) and released at the end of the season. Returned to Australia and NRL to play for North Queensland Cowboys|
|Jakob Johnson ||Germany||Football||New England Patriots||Fullback||2019 – signed to 10-man practice squad then promoted to 53-man roster, first IPP player in 2019 class to be activated and play in a regular season game (September 22, 2019, versus Jets) then put on injured reserve list|
2021 – re-signed
|Durval Queiroz Neto ||Brazil||Football||Miami Dolphins||Defensive tackle||2019 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
2020 – signed futures contract
|Máximo González Sánchez||Mexico||Football||–||Linebacker||–|
|Christian Wade ||UK||Rugby union||Buffalo Bills||Running back||2019 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
2020 – signed reserve/future contract
|2020||Isaac Alarcón||Mexico||Football||NFC East||Dallas Cowboys||Offensive tackle||2020 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Otávio Amorim||Brazil||Football||–||Offensive lineman||–|
|David Bada||Germany||Football||Washington Football Team||Defensive tackle||2020 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Leo Krafft||Norway||Football||–||Defensive end||–|
|Matt Leo||Australia||Football||Philadelphia Eagles||Defensive end||2020 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Chris Mulumba||Finland||Football||–||Defensive end||–|
|Sandro Platzgummer||Austria||Football||New York Giants||Running back||2020 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
2021 – signed by Giants
|Antoni Podgórski||Poland||Football||–||Wide receiver||–|
|Bernhard Seikovits||Austria||Football||–||Tight end||–|
|2021||Aaron Donkor||Germany||Football||NFC West||Seattle Seahawks||Defensive end||2021 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Alfredo Gutiérrez||Mexico||Football||San Francisco 49ers||Offensive lineman||2021 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Taku Lee||Japan||Football||–||Running back||–|
|Yoann Miangue||France||Taekwondo, football||–||Defensive end||–|
|Leonel Misangumukini||Austria||Football||–||Defensive end||–|
|Adedayo Odeleye||UK||Football||–||Defensive end||–|
|Maximilian Pircher||Italy||Handball, football||Los Angeles Rams||Offensive lineman||2021 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Sammis Reyes||Chile||Basketball||Washington Football Team||Tight end||2021 – signed as a free agent|
|Bernhard Seikovits||Austria||Football||Arizona Cardinals||Tight end||2021 – assigned to roster as IPP (roster exempt)|
|Lone Toailoa||New Zealand||Rugby union, football||–||Defensive end||–|
- "Four International Players Added to Practice Squads for 2017 Season | NFL Football Operations". operations.nfl.com.
- "New program opens doors for four NFL hopefuls". ESPN.com. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
- "The International Player Pathway Program: What it is, and why it will change the NFL". 26 June 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
- "International players added to four practice squads". NFL.com. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
- Bill Williamson, International practice-squad players assigned, ESPN, June 12, 2008.
- NFL Expands International Practice Squad Program, The News Tribune, May 23, 2008.
- "Rolando Cantu". National Football League. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- NFL Undiscovered (video). NFL. 2016.
- Malyon, Ed (February 23, 2017). "The NFL want talented young European athletes to enter the draft - here's how to be in with the chance of a lifetime". The Independent.
- "An updated look at the Steelers 91-man roster with jersey numbers before Preseason Week 4". Behind the Steel Curtain. August 29, 2019.
- "Bills' Wade and International Pathway Program: What fans need to know". newyorkupstate. August 19, 2019.
- Warren, Matt (August 18, 2019). "Clarifying the Buffalo Bills roster status with running back Christian Wade". Buffalo Rumblings.
- "What the Bills can do with RB Christian Wade". August 19, 2019.
- "Anthony Dable". NFL.com. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
- "New York Football Giants | Giants.com". www.giants.com.
- "Official Website of the Atlanta Falcons Football Club". www.atlantafalcons.com.
- "One Last Shot for Harry Innis at Jaguars Tryout (Episode 8) | NFL Undiscovered 2016" – via www.youtube.com.
- "Moritz Boehringer Stats, News and Video - TE". NFL.com.
- "Minnesota Vikings cut ties with German receiver Moritz Böhringer". American Football International. September 2, 2017.
- "The Official Site of the Minnesota Vikings". www.vikings.com.
- "Alex Gray Stats, News and Video - TE". NFL.com.
- "Alex Jenkins Stats, News and Video - DE". NFL.com.
- "Saints Player Transactions | New Orleans Saints | NewOrleansSaints.com". www.neworleanssaints.com.
- "Eric Nzeocha Stats, News and Video - LB". NFL.com.
- "Tampa Bay Buccaneers". www.buccaneers.com.
- "Efe Obada Stats, News and Video - DE". NFL.com.
- "International star Efe Obada re-signs with Panthers". NFL.com.
- "Carolina Panthers". www.panthers.com.
- "The Official Site of the Cincinnati Bengals". www.bengals.com.
- "NFL International Combine heads to Germany" (PDF). NFLCommunications.com. June 28, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
- "Christopher Ezeala Stats, News and Video - RB". NFL.com.
- "Jordan Mailata Stats, News and Video - OT". NFL.com.
- "Philadelphia Eagles". www.philadelphiaeagles.com.
- "Tigie Sankoh Stats, News and Video - DB". NFL.com.
- "Cleveland Browns". www.clevelandbrowns.com.
- "Christian Scotland-Williamson Stats, News and Video - TE". NFL.com.
- "Pittsburgh Steelers Transactions | Pittsburgh Steelers - Steelers.com". www.steelers.com.
- "Moubarak Djeri Stats, News and Video - DE". NFL.com.
- "Valentine Holmes Stats, News and Video - RB". NFL.com.
- "Official Site of the New York Jets". www.newyorkjets.com.
- Press, Australian Associated (November 24, 2019). "Valentine Holmes secures NRL return with lucrative Cowboys deal". the Guardian.
- "Jakob Johnson Stats, News and Video - TE". NFL.com.
- Wells, Adam. "Jakob Johnson makes NFL debut with Patriots". USAToday.com. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
- Wells, Adam (September 21, 2019). "Patriots' Jakob Johnson 1st International Pathway Program Player to Be Activated". BleacherReport.com. Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
- "New England Patriots". www.patriots.com.
- "Durval Queiroz Stats, News and Video - DT". NFL.com.
- "Miami Dolphins". www.miamidolphins.com.
- "Christian Wade Stats, News and Video - RB". NFL.com.
- "The Official Website of the Buffalo Bills". www.buffalobills.com.
- "NFC East teams assigned international players for 2020". NFL.com. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
- "International players to compete for a spot in the NFL International Player Pathway Program". NFLCommunications.com. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
- "Giants sign international RB Sandro Platzgummer". www.giants.com. Retrieved 2021-04-21.
- "Four players added to 2021 NFL rosters through Intentional Player Pathway program". NFL.com. Missing or empty
- "Eleven international players to compete for spot in 2021 NFL International Player Pathway Program". December 30, 2020. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
- Stackpole, Kyle (April 13, 2021). "Washington Signs Former Division I Basketball Player Sammis Reyes". WashingtonFootball.com. Retrieved April 13, 2021.