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Wales International Louis Rees-Zammit Aiming for NFL Contract via IPP

Publish Date: 22/03/2024
Fact checked by: Jordan Noble
Key Points
  • NFL teams are on the hunt for Welsh rugby player, Louis-Rees-Zammit
  • Betting sites give him short odds for life on the Gridiron
  • Louis-Rees-Zammit rumoured move to Frech top 14 rugby team may be thwarted
  • NFL is seeking to add other nationalities to its line-up of players

Three NFL franchises have put in offers for Louis-Rees-Zammit to join their teams after the Welsh rugby international made a strong showing at the International Player Pathway. The 23-year old is currently on a 10-week crash course at the training camp in the University of South Florida, and if successful at NFL IPP, Louis Rees-Zammit could be on his way to picking up a $900,000 yearly pay cheque.

Leicester City charged by Prem

Louis Rees-Zammit’s NFL dreams get real

Rees-Zammit stunned the rugby world earlier this year when he made his announcement to join the NFL International Player Pathway. This has seen the Welsh international training in front of scouts from all 32 NFL franchises who were on hand to see him in action on Wednesday’s NFL Pro Day.

The 23-year old put in a strong performance and racked up a commendable 4.44 seconds time in the 40-yard dash, and he also showed impressive dexterity in the position drills. While it has yet to be revealed who the three interested NFL franchises are, it’s believed that Louis Rees-Zammit’s eventual NFL position could be wide receiver, running back or even a kick returner.

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Louis Rees-Zammit’s NFL IPP pathway

The Welsh international has until the end of March to impress his potential NFL suitors. The IPP was launched in 2017, and its main function is to introduce non-US athletes to the NFL and bring them up to speed in terms of stamina and skill. In doing so, it would increase the pool of talent available for American football teams and also potentially boost the popularity of the sport on a global level.

So far, the IPP has produced a significant number of talents with Jordan Mailata being the most visible example. The rugby league star is now an offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles and bears a $16,000,000 yearly pay cheque for his efforts.

Such is the success of the IPP that NFL franchises will now get an additional place in their practice squads for players who come through the program. While Rees-Zammit’s 4.44 second dash wasn’t the fastest time on display in this year’s IPP, it was still speeder than the average and was notably much quicker than the 4.53-second dash recorded by Christian Wade in 2019 - another rugby union to NFL convert.

Rees-Zammit isn’t the only rugby union star dreaming of NFL glory, as George Smith, Darragh Leader and Harry Mallinder are also in the training academy in South Florida. While eighteen IPP graduates are now on the books at NFL franchises, it remains to be seen whether any of the class of 2024 will have what it takes to join the 37 international athletes who have signed contracts with NFL teams.

Here are the key features of the IPP:

  • Formed by NFL in 2017
  • Aims to increase number of players outside the US in the NFL
  • Hopes to boost potential player pool and drive global fan growth
  • Participants must be under 24 years old and not a citizen of the US or Canada

What a Louis Rees-Zammit NFL contract could mean for his rugby career

With a Louis Rees-Zammit NFL contract now looking more realistic than ever before, it marks a dark day for Welsh rugby as a whole. The 23-year old had been one of the brightest young talents on the national scene and he had already managed to be capped 32 times by his country.

While the Welsh international said that his decision to pursue an NFL career didn’t necessarily mean that he was retiring from rugby, it already helped consign Wales to a dismal performance at this year’s Six Nations. Rees-Zammit made his announcement just before the squad was named, and was no longer available to put in commanding performances like the scoring of five tries at last autumn’s World Cup.

Rees-Zammit first came to most people’s attention when he was playing as a teenager for Gloucester. The winger’s natural pace meant that it was only a matter of time before he was called up for international duties, making his debut for Wales in October 2020. He was also a member of the British and Irish Lion’s squad for their recent South Africa tour.

This season had seen the 23-year old making eight appearances for Gloucester with four tries scored. Rumours were that the Welsh star was linked with a move to the French Top 14 side next season, but it now looks like a Louis Rees-Zammit NFL career is the more likely option.

Why a Louis Rees-zammit NFL salary could be short-lived

While Rees-Zammit’s NFL dreams are admirable, not even the best betting sites will be giving him short odds for making much of an impact on the gridiron. This is because no one from the UK has managed to successfully switch sports and become a regular American football player.

Christian Wade left his impressive career as a Wasps winger to go through the IPP program in 2019. While he successfully forged a contract with the Buffalo Bills and even made a 65-yard touchdown in pre-season, he never actually made a regular game appearance with the Bills.

Similarly, Christian Scotland-Williamson left Worcester in 2017 to follow his dreams of becoming a tight end in the NFL. While he managed to get a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he failed to make the line-up in a regular season game. However, there is a happy end to the story here in that Scotland-Williamson did manage to come back to the UK and joined Harlequins in 2021 and even made an appearance in two Premiership Rugby Cup matches.

Spare a thought for Lawrence Okoye who went from being a discus thrower for Team GB to being shuttled around a range of teams in the NFL. Okoye started off by being signed by the San Francisco 49ers and after a couple of years on the sidelines there, he spent time in the practice squads at the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins. While none of these ventures ended up with him getting any playing time, Okoye still managed to come home to win silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

All of this shows that while the reality of there being a Louis Rees-Zammit NFL salary looks more likely than ever, the 23-year old will still have some work to do in order to make a lasting success on the gridiron. So best go somewhere like Bet365 that has NFL live streaming in the UK, grab one of those bookmaker bonuses, and see whether Rees-Zammit has what it takes to take on the likes of Patrick Mahomes.

Here are some of the most successful participants of the NFL IPP program:

  • Efe Obada - Defensive end for Carolina Panthers
  • Jordan Milata - Offensive tackle for Philadelphia Eagles
  • Jakob Johnson - Fullback for New England Patriots
  • David Bada - Defensive tackle for Washington Commanders
  • Alfredo Gutierrez - Offensive tackle for San Francisco 49ers
  • Max Pircher - Offensive tackle for Los Angeles Rams

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