The Birmingham Stallions are among the boldest teams in the league. They will aggressively swing for the fences whether it’s in free agency or via trades in order to improve their roster. It has kept them atop the USFL for two seasons, but heading into 2024, the XFL and USFL have merged heightening the level of competition within the league and on each team for each individual roster spot. The latest swing for the fences included trading an offensive lineman for Chauncey Rivers, a potential role player in the pass rush.

Terms of the Trade

The Stallions have agreed to trade with the DC Defenders. Acquiring defensive end Chauncey Rivers in exchange for OT Jahmir Johnson. Jahmir Johnson was one of several offensive linemen that spent time as a starter for the Stallions last season. He is a capable player but the Stallions have tremendous depth up front after overhauling the unit this offseason.

Meanwhile, Rivers is an intriguing pass-rusher with a lot of upside heading into 2024. The 6’2 edge rusher has the body-type and capability to play linebacker or defensive end, and I believe the latter is why we see the Stallions acquire him just before final cuts. Rivers is a career defensive lineman that has spent most of his time with his hand in the dirt rushing the passer as a defensive end. Listed at 275 pounds, his most likely position is in the front four for the Stallions.

While he does have experience playing as a stand-up linebacker, he has traditionally been used to rush the passer, and showed the tools to be very successful doing so. After three different marijuana related run-ins with the law during a 7 month stretch while attending his home town school, Georgia, he would end up dismissed from the program and left to find his next school at the JUCO level. He showcased his pass rushing abilities while at East Mississippi Community College when he produced 8 sacks, his best season during college.

Eventually landing back with Mississippi State in 2017. He would use an academic redshirt in 2017 before seeing the field in 25 games in the next two seasons collecting 8 sacks, and 15 tackles for a loss along the way. The one-time “Last Chance U” star would find NFL interest even though his pro-day numbers left something to be desired given his size. Although he would participate in his pro-day around 260 pounds, he had played as heavy as 283 pounds in college. Despite dropping weight he ran a 4.9 40-yard dash, and put up 20 reps in the bench press.

NFL Interest

Signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft, he would not initially make the active roster, but was retained on the practice squad. Later during the season, he was called up to the active roster but did not log any statistics. He would revert back to the practice squad for the rest of the season. After the 2020 season wrapped up, he was offered, and signed a futures contract with the Ravens giving him a chance to build on his time with the team.

Unfortunately this didn’t pan out in his favor as he was let go in Early August of 2021 before signing with the Green Bay Packers for the season. This time even though he had just a month to learn the system and adapt to the new verbiage he would make the final roster. In October he would tear his ACL and end his season early.

Moving on to the XFL

After tearing his ACL in October, Rivers was put in a bind, with the average recovery time for an ACL tear typically 9-12 months. This would mean he wasn’t ready until at earliest July right as NFL training camps began leaving him in a tough spot to find his next team as he was unable to attend work-outs.  This ultimately led to him spending 2022 out of football, giving him over a full year to heal before he even saw himself selected by the Houston Roughnecks for their inaugural season.

Appearing in all ten games for the team last season he had a tough time breaking into the starting lineup on a stacked team for the Roughnecks that send several players back to the NFL. He still managed to collect 13 tackles, including 5 for a loss, and 2.5 sacks on the season as a role player. After the 2023 season he was left unprotected by the Houston Roughnecks and ultimately was not retained by the team.

He would end up unselected throughout the dispersal draft and left to languish in free agency, until the Defenders called in late February. He would officially sign with the team on the 28th. Now less than two weeks later he has been traded to the Stallions. This is most likely a swap of players that could end up released via final cuts. Jahmir Johnson was not likely to make the roster as anything more than a depth piece for the Stallions, and the same could be said for Rivers with the Defenders.

Rivers and Johnson will both get a short chance to make a first impression on a new team just before the final cut down date which could be the lifeline they needed to make a roster in 2024.

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Sam Just

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