NFL to UFL: Culpepper Makes the Leap, Who Will Defect Next?

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Daunte Culpepper, as quarterback for the Detroit Lions

REUTERS / Rebecca Cook

You may not know much about the United Football League, but if you know the name Daunte Culpepper, prepare to learn a whole lot more.

ESPN reported late Tuesday afternoon that Culpepper is likely making the leap from the Detroit Lions of the NFL to the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL, poised to become the biggest name yet in the year-old league. Culpepper would be playing for head coach Dennis Green – the same man Culpepper played for in Minnesota.

If he did indeed jump leagues, it would spark immediate speculation as to who might be next in stepping from a supporting role in one league to a superstar role in another.

Last year, the UFL played out a season with only four teams: The Florida Tuskers, Hartford Colonials, Las Vegas Locomotives and the Sacramento Mountain Lions. An expansion team was recently added: The Omaha Nighthawks. Launching with the goal of carving out a presence in markets currently not served by the NFL, the UFL also embraces an array of unique rules that differ from NFL guidelines, the most striking difference concerning an overtime which is not sudden death, but instead ensures that each time will have an OT possession.

There was no immediate word Tuesday of how much Culpepper might be paid, though Wikipedia cites sports agent Jack Bechta as saying he represented two players with NFL experience who were offered base UFL salaries of $35,000 – the standard league salary for “skill” players.

Needless to say: That’s a substantial pay cut from NFL minimums.