Stories of Former New Orleans Saints Players in the UFL

May 13, 2024 by Staff

Rosters in the UFL represent players who are trying to make themselves noticed for their first call-up to the 'big league, as well as plenty of players who have already had at least one bite at the NFL, but were unable to stick for the long haul.

They are hoping to do what, for example, former Birmingham Stallion QB Alex McGough of F.I.T. and placekicker Brandon Aubrey of Notre Dame managed to do in July of 2023 -- get picked up by an NFL franchise.

McGough is with the Green Bay Packers as a wide receiver, while Aubrey is with the Dallas Cowboys. McGough did see some preseason action last year at quarterback and in one instance, led the Packers on the game-winning drive over the Seattle Seahawks.

Aubrey went on to lead the NFL in field goals made in 2023 with 36. He was also third in percentage of successful attempts (36-of-38) at 94.7.with both misses from the 30-39 range. He was a perfect 9-for-9 from 50 yards out or more, and converted his only attempt from 60.

Over the years of trying to assemble a Super Bowl caliber team, many New Orleans Saints players have come and gone. And according to a report in February, at least 18 former Saint players were on the rosters of various United Football League squads at that time. We did our own research and discovered a lot of interesting unreported info.

Here are a few of the more interesting stories of former New Orleans Saints in the UFL:

Darius Victor, RB, Memphis - The (now) 30-year-old who was born in Liberia, played for FCS member Towson and racked up 3,300 yards and 41 touchdowns from 2013-2016. He was an undrafted free agent with the Saints in 2017, but waived on September 2 and picked up by Arizona. He also had a stop with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, but he failed to latch-on anywhere until he became the star of the USFL's New Jersey Generals in 2022 when he started all 10 games and was named offensive player of the year as he rushed for 577 yards and 9 TD's. He caught the attention of the Saints again after that season, but no deal was reached to sign him. He was picked up this year by Memphis of the UFL in the dispersal draft and has just 206 yards on 71 attempts, but is 10th in the league in rushing yards.

Cyril Grayson, WR, Houston - The all-American in track at LSU has played in 7 games with the Roughnecks with 15 catches for 147 yards. He famously caught the game winning TD for Tampa Bay against the Jets on January 2, 2022 after Antonio Brown had partly undressed and walked off the field in the 3rd quarter. Grayson wound up making 6 catches for 81 yards and the 33-yard game-winner from Tom Brady with 15 seconds left.

D.J. Swearinger, S, DC Defenders - Swearinger started 73 NFL games from 2013 to 2020. Nearly 44% of those starts (32) came with Houston in 2013 and 2014 after he was drafted by the Texans in the second round out of South Carolina. He later made 31 starts with the Washington Redskins (2017 and 2018). He played 6 games with the DC Defenders in the UFL in 2023, but was released on April 30 of this season after making 21 tackles, including 16 solo stops. Swearinger, now 32, said it was a age thing. "They said they wanted to let some younger guys play. My take on it is, it's part of the business."

T.J. Green, DB, Memphis - Joined the Saints in late July during 2019's training camp. He'd get waived and then brought back to the practice squad. He later got a promotion to the active roster in mid-December, but was waived a few days later for D.J. Swearinger (see above).

Emmanuel Butler, WR, Houston - He has played in 7 games with the Roughnecks and has 11 catches for 152 yards and a TD. The UDFA out of Northern Arizona in 2019 tried for several seasons to get his real opportunity with New Orleans.

Kirk Merritt, WR, Houston - The Louisiana native is use to roaming, having spent five seasons at four different schools as a running back and a wide receiver for Oregon (2015), Texas A&M (2016), East Mississippi Community College (2017) and Arkansas State (2018-2019). He has played in a total of 8 NFL games with the Miami Dolphins and Saints. This year, he has 9 catches for 113 yards.

Dee Anderson, WR, Memphis - He has 6 catches for 98 yards and a TD for the Showboats. Saw limited action in 3 seasons at LSU (2016-2018), 2 seasons at Oklahoma State (2019-2020) and 1 season at Alabama A&M (2021). He was a Saints rookie camp invite in 2022, but wasn't offered a contract.

Josiah Bronson, DE, Memphis - After 6 years of college ball with Temple (1 year and never played due to injury) and Washington, he signed for $165,000 guaranteed money with New Orleans as an UDRFA in 2021. He made his debut in Week 7 of the 2021 season, but he was waived on December 14. He then bounced from the Browns to the Cowboys to the Dolphins. He signed with Memphis this past December.