Antonio Callaway will be playing professional football next season — just not in the NFL.
The former Cleveland Browns fourth-round pick was claimed by the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, according to an official announcement from the team. Callaway is a Florida native and played his college football at the University of Florida.
The Browns selected Callaway out of Florida in the fourth round in 2018 with the 105th overall pick. He was a controversial choice, having a spotty history with the Gators.
Callaway was suspended for his entire 2017 season with Florida for his role in a credit card fraud scheme and was also charged with marijuana possession and was the subject of a sexual assault investigation during his time in Gainesville.
The Browns waived Callaway prior to their Week 10 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers after multiple problems surrounding the pass-catcher.
Antonio Callaway Had Large Suspension Looming
Callaway had been suspended for the first four games of 2019 for a failed drug test and it was revealed shortly after he had been issued an additional 10-game suspension for a repeat drug violation.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, Callaway used a CBD edible product over the summer to help with pain from his ankle injury, but it contained THC, which showed up in his drug test.
Callaway showed flashes during his rookie season of something special, finding success with his speedy skillset. He caught 43 balls for 586 yards five touchdowns as a rookie.
His sophomore season was not as impressive. Callaway had just eight catches for 89 yards before being released — 41 of that coming on one play. His most memorable play of the season was a drop at the goal line against the 49ers that turned into an interception.
It’s conceivable that if Callaway can stay on the straight and narrow while showing off his skill set, another NFL opportunity will come calling. That being said, Callaway has done little to prove in his brief NFL career that he’ll be able to do that.
Antonio Callaway a Good Pickup for XFL
Callaway will be one of the more notable names in the XFL, with some solid NFL production under his belt. But there are others.
Others players NFL fans may recognize are running back Christine Michael, quarterback Cardale Jones, kicker Roberto Aguayo and receiver Sammie Coates.
Callaway will be a welcome addition for a league will look to make a splash in its first year back after a nearly two decade hiatus with some different rules.
“What we did is listen to fans,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said in a statement. “And what they told us is that they love this game, but they would like it at a little more of a faster pace and with a little more excitement. They thought there is too much idle time. We tried to listen to what they didn’t want, also. They didn’t want gimmicks or things that were inauthentic. They also didn’t want to be complicit when it comes to player safety. So what we wanted to do is take a great game and make it a little better.”
The league is set to launch the weekend after the Super Bowl.