Week 1 of the 2024 UFL regular season will kick off on Saturday, Mar. 30, as spring football enters a new era. This time last year, football fans were watching the XFL and preparing to watch another season of the USFL.

Both leagues had a successful 2023 campaign, with the Birmingham Stallions winning their second-straight USFL title while the Arlington Renegades won the XFL championship. However, for spring football to take that next step in its development, the two leagues merged under the banner of the UFL.

As we saw with the USFL and XFL, the UFL will have eight teams, with four teams from each conference. The brand-new UFL has the best talent in spring football, with multiple former NFL players on each roster.

The Philadelphia Eagles are well-represented in the UFL, with six former players set to play in Week 1 on the various teams across the league. These players want to make a name for themselves in the UFL and potentially get back to the NFL.

1. John Hightower, WR, Michigan Panthers

The 27-year-old Hightower was one of the three wide receivers that the Eagles took in the infamous 2020 NFL Draft. Hightower was the second wideout taken by Philadelphia in the fifth round after they used their first-round pick on Jalen Reagor. The team also took Quez Watkins in the sixth round.

Eagles fans were excited about Hightower’s potential as he had the speed to stretch the field and be a factor in the kick return game. However, the former Boise State standout never found his footing with the Eagles, as he only had 10 receptions (29 targets) for 167 yards in 14 career games.

The biggest highlight of Hightower’s Eagles tenure was a 77-yard bomb he caught from Carson Wentz in 2020.

Hightower was waived by the Eagles in August 2022 but was signed to the Los Angeles Chargers practice squad a month later. The young wide receiver didn’t play any snaps that season with the Chargers but then signed him to a reserve/future contract in Jan. 2023.

However, the Chargers released Hightower last August. The former Eagles wide receiver will showcase his skills with the Michigan Panthers. The Panthers have a few solid wideouts in Trey Quinn, Devin Gray, and Jordan Suell, but Hightower could become that big-play wide receiver for whoever is under center.

2. Deontay Burnett, WR, Arlington Renegades

Eagles fans will remember Burnett from the 2019 season when Philadelphia had Greg Ward, Jordan Matthews, Joshua Perkins, and Robert Davis catching passes from Wentz.

Burnett played three games with the Eagles across two seasons and spent time on their practice squad before being waived in Mar. 2021.

After being waived by the Eagles, Burnett landed in the XFL last year with the Houston Roughnecks, where he was a playmaker in A.J. Smith’s offense. Burnett posted 27 receptions for 378 yards and six touchdowns. The former Eagles wide receiver will try to bring that same big-play ability to the Renegades’ offense, which lacked explosive plays in the passing game last season.

3. Marvin Wilson, DT, Birmingham Stallions

The former Florida State standout spent the 2021 and ’22 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns. Wilson played in two games with the Eagles and spent time on the practice squad. The team also signed the young defensive lineman to a futures/reserve contract in Feb. 2023.

However, Wilson saw his Eagles’ tenure end last August with the 2023 season on the horizon. After spending time with Philly, Wilson signed with the Philadelphia Stars (USFL). The Stars traded Wilson to the Birmingham Stallions, where he’ll be looking to be a factor in the middle of their defensive line en route to a third-straight championship game appearance.

4. Hakeem Butler, WR, St. Louis Battlehawks

The 27-year-old Butler was highly touted coming out of Iowa State but couldn’t get on the field with the Arizona Cardinals after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Butler joined the Eagles in 2020 after being released by the Carolina Panthers.

The former Iowa State standout played in two games with the Eagles during that season, where he had one target. Philadelphia waived Butler in Aug. 2021, but he would find his way to the XFL last year and become a star.

Butler was Battlehawks QB A.J. McCarron’s favorite target and established himself as one of the top playmakers in the league. The 6-foot-5 wide receiver had 51 receptions for 599 yards and eight touchdowns. Butler is back with St. Louis for the second consecutive season as the Battlehawks try to make the UFL playoffs.

5. Reid Sinnett, QB, Houston Roughnecks

Sinnett had a short stint with the Eagles as he joined the team for the 2022 preseason. The University of San Diego quarterback completed 25-of-48 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Eagles fans will probably remember Sinnett’s touchdown pass to wide receiver Devon Allen, which was an absolute bomb.

Sinnett was waived by Philadelphia in Aug. 2022 and picked up again by the Miami Dolphins. After another stint with Miami, Sinnett found his way to the XFL with the San Antonio Brahmas ( 68.4% for 97 yards, a touchdown, and an interception) last season. The 27-year-old quarterback is now with the Houston Roughnecks, who named Jarrett Guarantano as the starting QB for Week 1.

6. Deon Cain, WR, Birmingham Stallions

The former Clemson wide receiver didn’t play in a regular season game with the Eagles but joined them for the preseason in 2022 and ’23. Cain has only played 15 career NFL games with the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers but has made a name for himself in the USFL with the Stallions.

The 6-foot-2 wideout went off in the USFL championship against the Pittsburgh Maulers last year, recording four receptions (seven targets) for 70 yards and three touchdowns. The Maulers’ defense had no answers for Cain, who won USFL Championship Game MVP.

Cain didn’t do much in the regular season (16 receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns) for the Stallions, but he showed up when Birmingham needed him the most. Spring football fans should watch out for Cain, who is one of the best-returning players for the Stallions this year.

[Photo courtesy of Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]