Currently Dj Fluker is 3 years removed from his NFL playing days, although he made the practice squad rounds in 2021. He has played 108 games with 96 starts during his NFL career but the veteran offensive lineman hasn’t been able to find a concrete chance to play since the 2020 season with Baltimore. He is also down 40 pounds and looks like he could play tight end. Should he look to alternative football leagues to continue his career?
Former First Round Pick Looking for a Second Chance
Dj Fluker was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, his first four seasons were something of a roller coaster ride for Fluker, and the Chargers. In his rookie season he started 15 games and was named to the All-Rookie team. In 2014 he started 16 games, a feat he would manage just once more. In 2016, his play at tackle, combined with his size led to a move inside to guard. He would start 12 games missing 4 with an ankle injury. His last season with San Diego he started all 16 games.
After 4 seasons with the Chargers, he hit free agency looking for a stabile home. He wound ink a 1 year $3 million contract with the Giants, playing in 9 games, 6 of which he started before a toe injury ended his season in November. This effectively spelled the end to his Giants career as well. Just 4 months after he was placed on reserve, he was signed by Seattle. Seattle brought him in as a guard, and he played in 10 games starting 9.
Despite missing some time, Seattle liked what they saw, and signed Fluker to a 2 year contract extension worth $9 million. Despite this extension Fluker lasted just one more year in Seattle. In 2020 Baltimore came calling and added Fluker to their offensive line. A bout with Covid 19 cost him some time but he overall was a solid piece for the Ravens that year. The following season Miami signed Fluker in April, but by July he was placed on injured reserve because of a torn meniscus.
What’s in the Water in Alabama?
Miami ultimately chose to release him and allow him to move on. On September 15th, Fluker was suspended by the NFL for violating the policy on performance enhancing substances. Fluker and DE Ryan Anderson, both Alabama Alumni, were suspended and reinstated the same weeks. Almost makes you wonder what they’re putting in the water in Alabama..
Regardless, it’s been 2 full years since Fluker has suited up, 3 if you consider he never played a game in 2021. He hasn’t so much as signed an NFL practice squad contract since the end of 2021. Since then he has re-made himself in a new image, losing 40 pounds he is in the best shape of his professional career. Perhaps making him a better fit at tackle if he is able to move better at 300 pounds.
Is an Alt Football League Audition Better Than NFL Workouts Without Recent Film?
The question I have, is what’s more effective in his pursuit of an NFL Contract? Unpaid work-outs for NFL teams or at least a showcase of your health, and abilities in the USFL, XFL, or CFL before seeing what workouts come? Personally I would think playing in an actual game and having current film would be in his best interests, if for no other reason than to prove he can still move okay at 32 years old with a long injury history to of lower body injuries.
It would also go a long way toward answering the questions about his time away from the game, and his new look down 40 pounds from his playing days. This is a guy who was a first round pick for a reason, but a lot has happened since then that opened up many questions for the big man.
The biggest question for a potential alternative football stint? Has he made enough money that he’s okay walking away from the game entirely? Fluker isn’t getting any younger, and if these work outs don’t lead to a contract he is only closer to that being his reality as he heads into year number four without playing in a regular season NFL game.
With only the playoffs remaining in the USFL, this is a safe bet for Fluker to make his way back into an NFL training camp, and put over $10,000 in his pocket over the next 2 weeks should the Breakers win, doing so.
Playoff Push Reinforcements
The New Orleans native would be a great addition for the Breakers, and could even help build fan rapport while playing in Birmingham. Coach DeFilippo never directly coached Fluker but he coached against him when Fluker was with the Chargers, and DeFilippo was with the Raiders, and again in 2017 with the Giants and Eagles respectively.
Adding a player like Fluker for a late season playoff push makes a lot of sense. Especially when you consider McLeod Bethel-Thompson has been sacked 23 times, good for 3rd most by any USFL Quarterback. The only question now is, what’s stopping New Orleans from making the call?
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