Broncos sign XFL star Ben DiNucci to compete behind QB Russell Wilson
That Walmart greeter's job will have to wait for Ben DiNucci. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and recent XFL star signed a contract with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday.
DiNucci made a good impression over the weekend at the team's rookie minicamp that included five veteran try-out prospects. His only mistake was a high pass that third-round pick Drew Sanders returned for a pick-six.
The play happened right in front of team owner Greg Penner, who was talking with general manager George Paton.
Coach Sean Payton said he had just been bragging about DiNucci to Penner, the son-in-law of Walmart heir Rob Walton, whose ownership group bought the Broncos last year for $4.65 billion.
“He told me I’d have a job at Walmart working somewhere if football doesn’t work out,” DiNucci said. “So, a good laugh.”
DiNucci won't be greeting shoppers but competing with Jarrett Stidham and Jarrett Guarantano to back up Russell Wilson.
His quarterbacks coach is 28-year-old Davis Webb, who played for the New York Giants last season and is just two years older than DiNucci.
When Webb called ahead of his tryout, DiNucci said he was taken aback.
“I said, ‘Aren’t you still playing?" DiNucci recounted. “I had no idea he was the quarterbacks coach here."
DiNucci led the XFL with 2,671 passing yards for the Seattle Sea Dragons this spring, when he also threw for 20 touchdowns and a league-high 13 interceptions.
He was drafted by the Cowboys out of James Madison in 2020 and all three of his NFL appearances came in his rookie season, including his only start, a 23-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
DiNucci said his XFL experience helped him get a second chance in the NFL.
“I've been playing for the last 12 weeks, didn't have to get in shape, didn't have to go through a bunch before this,” he said. “I think for me, a second opportunity to be in an NFL locker room feels a little different this time around. It might be my last chance. The XFL was awesome, exceeded my expectations tenfold."
DiNucci thanked Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia, who partnered with Gerry Cardinale's RedBird Capital to buy the XFL, for giving him an opportunity to keep chasing his NFL dream.
The Broncos also signed another XFL alum Tuesday: running back Jacques Patrick, a second-year player from Florida State. He played for the San Antonio Brahmas this spring, rushing for 443 yards on 115 carries with five touchdowns and catching 30 passes for 238 yards.
The signings came a day after the Broncos re-signed veteran safety Kareem Jackson and running back Tyreik McAllister.
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Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press