Robert Hanashiro | USA TODAY Sports

The XFL is not going to sit around and let the USFL get a spring football foothold.

From ESPN:

The XFL continued its efforts to counterprogram the USFL’s return to the field by convening a virtual meeting of agents Monday night to pitch them on the league’s plans for 2023 and beyond … The XFL’s top football executives — Marc Ross, Doug Whaley and Russ Giglio — told agents that the XFL would offer higher salaries and better benefits than the USFL.

Ross, Whaley and Giglio also suggested that the XFL’s season schedule, which will begin in February and end in May, would be more “advantageous” for players who want to get subsequent consideration from NFL teams.

No word from ESPN if the XFL also vowed it wouldn’t cut guys for asking for pizza.

The XFL has valid points. The planned season timeframe is certainly preferable. And according to the ESPN story, the XFL will have 200 more players employed (eight teams with 70-man rosters; the USFL has 45-man rosters) and promises larger salaries and full housing and meal costs in-season.

(The USFL reportedly has players paying $75 per day to stay in a Birmingham hotel. That’s $2,250 a month. Hotel benefits aside, you could probably get a heck of a lot more for that amount down there.)

The USFL did sign players to two-year deals to protect against an XFL raid. But those contracts won’t matter if the league doesn’t reach Year 2. And common sense — and history — still suggests that is more likely than not. FOX Sports may own the league and have the money to keep it running for a few years. But that does not mean it will want to spend the cash to do so.

Initial ratings aside, there does not seem to be the same cultural buzz about the USFL that the AAF and XFL 2.0 generated. And while the one-site setup is financially smart, it limits exposure moving forward.

The USFL may have a year’s head start. The XFL still has The Rock, a collaboration deal with the NFL and, it says, better pay and conditions for players. That gives it a better chance to thrive long-term. It has to know that as it keeps trying to run the USFL off the road.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.