2024 UFL Arlington Renegades Season Summary

Arlington Renegades players #27 Devin Darrington, #80 Sal Cannella, and #65 Marcus Minor celebrate, in a Week 10 game against the D.C,. Defenders, at Audio Field, in Washington D.C. (@TheUFL)

This is part three of what will be an eight-part look at each UFL team’s 2024 season. 

Part One: Houston Roughnecks

Part Two: Memphis Showboats

What went right

A big question heading into the season was, “could QB Luis Perez continue the magic that led the Renegades to the XFL title in 2023?” The answer was, “yes.” Perez showed he has a lot left in the tank, starting all 10 games and finishing as the league leader in most passing categories. He was aided by an offensive line that gave up the fewest sacks in the league, despite Perez’s limited mobility. The receiving corps had its moments, including TE Sal Cannella, who led all tight ends in receptions and receiving yards while finishing as the league-leader in touchdown receptions. Defensively, the Renegades were able to take the ball away, pacing the UFL in interceptions. Arlington finished the season strong, winning three out of their last four games, including one against playoff-bound St. Louis.

What went wrong

An 0-6 start to the season doomed the defending XFL Champions. Of those six losses, two came by just one point and three came with an opposing game-winning field goal at the buzzer. Losing to Birmingham in the much-hyped opener seemed to take some steam out of the squad early. As good as the offensive line performed in pass protection, they struggled to open holes in the run game until the end of the season when the team was already out of playoff contention. Receivers battled drops at inopportune times. As evidenced by the nature of several losses, the defense couldn’t get off the field when opponents drove down to get in position to win the game. Arlington finished seventh in tackles for loss, generally not living up to the standard previously set by head coach Bob Stoops-led defenses.

Luis Perez prepares to throw a pass in a Week 7 UFL game against the Memphis Showboats.(@XFLRenegades)

Offensive MVP

Had Arlington made the playoffs, QB Luis Perez would’ve been in the league MVP conversation, and perhaps would’ve taken home the hardware. He completed 67% of his passes for 2,309 yards with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Perez was the most consistent part of the team, the rock that steadied the ship even as it was going under. His veteran composure no doubt played a part in the success the Renegades had at the end of the season.

Defensive MVP

Just as Perez could be counted on to take the field week-in and week-out, so too could that be said of CB Steven Jones, Jr. Jones started all 10 games and was a leader in the defensive backfield. He tied for the team lead with two interceptions and was second in pass break-ups with eight. He also had 32 tackles and recovered a fumble. Jones didn’t always stuff the stat sheet, but he was in the right spot more often than not, and teamed with fellow corner Ajene Harris to provide some resistance to opposing offenses.

Special Teams MVP

With the kickoff at the 20 yard-line to encourage returns, offensive drives often started between the 35 and 40 yard-lines, granting enviable field position right away. Coverage teams took on an important role in an effort to stem that advantage. Kickoffs and punts weren’t covered any better than they were by LB Storey Jackson, who was tops in the UFL in special teams tackles with 17. Jackson saw time on defense as well, but his greatest value was on the third unit. Special nod to P Marqutte King and K Jonathan Garibay, both of whom had quality seasons themselves.

Most likely to succeed (in getting NFL opportunities)

The first Renegade is already off the board in DE Jalen Redmond, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He played in just four games due to injury, but still managed to lead the team in tackles for loss and finish second in sacks. Having him for a full season would’ve greatly helped the defense. Perez is hoping his numbers earned him another shot with an NFL team. Cannella could be on the radar as well and has already worked out for the New Orleans Saints. A few offensive linemen may be of interest to teams, as well as a wide receiver or two. The defense was veteran-laden, the kind of players for whom NFL time may have already passed.

QB concern level for 2025 (1-5)

The concern here doesn’t come from Perez’s performance; rather, it comes from whether or not he will return to the team for another year in the UFL. Perez has put a lot of work into spring football and thus far it has born little NFL fruit. If he doesn’t see a path to the NFL, will he want to continue? If he doesn’t, Arlington has two well-regarded youngsters behind him in Lindsey Scott, Jr. and Holton Ahlers. Both were in their first season of pro ball and basically took a redshirt year. They were able to learn behind someone who is meticulous in his preparation. The hope is that rubbed off on them. Will either one of them be ready to take the reins of the offense if Perez doesn’t come back? There are a lot of balls in the air here, so I’ll say it’s a 2.5 for now.

Arlington Renegades head coach Bob Stoops.
Arlington Renegades head coach Bob Stoops.

Head coach hot seat rating (1-5)

As bad as the season got for Arlington, and as much as we saw uncharacteristic mistakes made by a Stoops team, there was never the sense that the UFL would pull the plug on him. And they were right not to, given the fact that the Renegades finished the season on a high note. The name recognition and value that Stoops brings is a positive for the UFL, and it would take an awful lot for them to give him the boot. Certainly not one losing season following a championship. The question is whether Stoops opts to return: XFL coaches will be taking a pay cut in 2025 and when asked about the situation in the final week’s post-game press conference, Stoops didn’t commit one way or the other. It’s clear he likes coaching professionals in spring ball, but he’s not going to do it if the value doesn’t meet what he believes he deserves. So a for being on the hot seat, but put down his future as legitimately TBA.

Offseason needs for 2025

RB De’Veon Smith turns 30 later this year. It may be time to add to the running back room, unless they believe this year’s backup, Leddie Brown, can handle a bigger workload. The rest of the offense is solid; offensive line depth could always be improved in a league like the UFL, even if the starters don’t need replacing. The defense significantly under-performed and so Arlington could look for upgrades there. With a veteran unit, adding youth on D is a priority. The linebackers are fine against the run but they could use some that are better in defending the pass. If Stoops decides to vamoose, so too could his assistants, many of whom have been with Stoops for some time. The next head coach will install his own offense and defense that could be different from what we’ve seen the past few years in Arlington, and that could mean wholesale roster changes along with it.

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