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NFL teams can sign XFL players on Monday as fledgling league officially cancels season

Starting Monday, D.C. quarterback Cardale Jones and the rest of the league's players will be able to join an NFL team. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The XFL held out hope, no matter how small, that it could resume its season at some point. But it wound up falling in line, officially ending its pursuit to play again this year by announcing Friday the it cancellation of the remainder of its 2020 campaign.

“This decision has been made with the health and safety of the entire XFL family as our top priority,” the league said in a statement addressed to its fans.

“While we are disappointed to not complete the 2020 season, our hearts are full of appreciation for your overwhelming support.”

The 2001 iteration of the XFL lasted just one season but this time around, the league is bullish on a 2021 season taking place.

“We’re grateful for the incredible response and look forward to playing full seasons for you — and with you — in 2021 and beyond,” Friday’s statement included.

The XFL originally put out a carefully worded statement last Thursday that it “currently” would not play games, but that players would receive their base pay and benefits for the rest of the regular season.

The league confirmed Friday word from the NFL, per ESPN, that its players will be allowed to sign with NFL and CFL teams beginning Monday morning. The NFL’s free agency period officially started Wednesday.

Breakout stars like the Houston Roughnecks duo of quarterback P.J. Walker and Cam Phillips (a DeMatha alum and Virginia Tech product) could find themselves on an NFL roster. Through five weeks, Walker led the league with 1,338 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. Phillips led the league with 455 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in five games, and was named the XFL’s “Star of the Week” three times.

The league originally announced last Wednesday that its game between the Los Angeles Wildcats and Seattle Dragons would take place without fans after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee prohibited events with more than 250 people. A day later, the league suspended operations.

This came a week after it was reported that a CenturyLink Field concessions vendor who worked the Dragons game on Feb. 22 had tested positive for coronavirus. The XFL confirmed Sunday that a Dragons player also tested positive, and put his last two opponents, the Roughnecks and St. Louis Battlehawks on alert.

If the XFL postseason started after five regular season games, the Dallas Renegades (2-3) would have traveled to face the Roughnecks (5-0) in the XFL West playoffs, while the XFL East would have seen the DC Defenders (3-2) host the St. Louis BattleHawks (3-2), whom they defeated at Audi Field in Week 5.

More XFL:

What is the XFL? The newest professional football league, explained.

What brought former Redskins star Kurt Gouveia back to D.C. and the XFL? ‘I need football.’

Cardale Jones is already big in Ohio. The XFL could make him a star in D.C. and beyond.

The XFL wanted to liven up (and smarten up) extra-point conversions. It’s working.