The International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) is a program run by the National Football League (NFL) to increase the number of non-American and Canadian players in the NFL. The program was formed as part of the NFL's strategy to grow globally as it provides athletes with the opportunity to play in the league which will increase the pool of talent and ultimately drive fan growth globally.[1][2]


The International Player Pathway Program was not the first initiative by the NFL to introduce foreign talent into its pool of players and neither is it, as yet, the longest running. The first such program was the NFL International Development Practice Squad Program that ran between 2004 and 2009. Following a short hiatus of seven years there was a single incarnation of NFL Undiscovered in 2016 and building immediately on the success of that trial the IPPP was instituted in 2017.[3][4][5]

NFL International Development Practice Squad Program

The NFL International Practice Squad Program was an initiative run by the NFL in which selected players from outside the United States or Canada were assigned to the practice squads of NFL teams. The program began in 2004[6] and was concluded five years later in 2009 but during that time many players from a multitude of nations[7] were given the opportunity to play in the NFL or other professional football leagues like the Arena Football League, the United Football League and the Canadian Football League.

NFL Undiscovered

Two British-born former NFL players Aden Durde (NFLUK head of football development) and two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora were concerned that there were no clear pathways into the NFL for players who had not gone to high-school and/or college in the United States, and, as a result, the NFL was potentially missing out on some exceptional players. Wanting to remedy this, in early 2016, they used their personal and professional contacts from their time in the NFL to create a training program and to set-up meetings and try-outs with NFL teams for a small number of specially selected football players. These players' potential had been scouted primarily by watching YouTube videos.[8] The initial group of players all lived, worked and played amateur football in Europe. At the time, the program was not yet officially named the International Player Pathway, but it was fully sanctioned and supported by the NFL. Additionally, the League had commissioned a mini-series documentary to be made, called NFL Undiscovered, that followed the participants of the program.

In 2017 the IPP was implemented with systems for choosing which division sponsors the program annually, as well as special regulations applying to the teams being assigned the players. The program has grown every year since its launch and, as of 2020, more than half (19 of 32) of all NFL teams have signed international players as a direct result of the program.


In 2017, potential applicants to NFL Undiscovered were asked to meet specific requirements and were advised to follow a particular application process.[9] Some of these criteria have either changed over time or there is some discretion applied during the selection process, as not all the athletes that have come through the program in the intervening years meet all of the following criteria.

Roster regulations

The NFL has specific regulations for players that sign through the IPP. The teams to which each IPP player is assigned are allowed 91 players[10] on their off-season rosters, one more than those teams that are not participating in the IPP that year. At the point when these rosters need to be cut to 53 (at the end of pre-season), the participating teams must decide the status of their IPP players.[11][12][13]

First, the team can keep their IPP player on their 53-man roster. If they waive the player, he goes through the NFL's waiver system, which allows him to be claimed by another team. If he clears waivers, the team can sign the player to their practice squad. If they do, they may elect to take an exemption for the IPP player, giving them an extra spot on their practice squad. If they utilize the exemption, that player cannot be signed to the active roster of any team during the season. If the exemption is declined, the player is treated like any other practice squad player, and can be promoted to a team's active roster. If the player chooses to sign with a team other than the one to which he was assigned, that team may not claim the exemption.

Notable participants

Accurate as of the 2023 NFL season
NFL players who participated in the NFL Undiscovered and International Player Pathway programs
Season Player Nationality Previous sport(s) Position Debut team Ref
2016 Anthony Dablé  France Football Wide receiver New York Giants [14]
Moritz Böhringer  Germany Football Wide receiver Minnesota Vikings [15]
2017 Alex Gray  UK Rugby union Tight end Atlanta Falcons [16]
Alex Jenkins  UK Football Defensive end New Orleans Saints [17]
Eric Nzeocha  Germany
Football Linebacker Tampa Bay Buccaneers [18]
Efe Obada  UK Football Defensive end Carolina Panthers [19]
2018 Moritz Böhringer  Germany Football Tight end Cincinnati Bengals [20]
Christopher Ezeala  Germany
Football Running back Baltimore Ravens [21]
Jordan Mailata  Australia Rugby league Offensive tackle Philadelphia Eagles [22]
Tigie Sankoh  UK Football Defensive back Cleveland Browns [23]
Christian Scotland-Williamson  UK Rugby union Tight end Pittsburgh Steelers [24]
2019 Valentine Holmes  Australia Rugby league Running back New York Jets [25]
Jakob Johnson  Germany
Football Fullback New England Patriots [26]
Durval Queiroz Neto  Brazil Football Defensive tackle Miami Dolphins [27]
Christian Wade  UK Rugby union Running back Buffalo Bills [28]
2020 Isaac Alarcón  Mexico Football Offensive tackle Dallas Cowboys [29]
David Bada  Germany
Football Defensive tackle Washington Football Team [29]
Matt Leo  Australia Australian rules football Defensive end Philadelphia Eagles [29]
Sandro Platzgummer  Austria Football Running back New York Giants [29]
2021 Aaron Donkor  Germany
Football Defensive end Seattle Seahawks [30]
Alfredo Gutiérrez  Mexico Football Offensive tackle San Francisco 49ers [30]
Max Pircher  Italy Handball Offensive tackle Los Angeles Rams [30]
Sammis Reyes  Chile Basketball Tight end Washington Football Team [31]
Bernhard Seikovits  Austria Football Tight end Arizona Cardinals [30]
2022 Marcel Dabo  Germany
Football Cornerback Indianapolis Colts [32]
Roy Mbaeteka  Nigeria Football Offensive tackle New York Giants [33]
Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi  Nigeria Football Offensive tackle Arizona Cardinals [34]
Adedayo Odeleye  UK Football Defensive end Houston Texans [32]
Thomas Odukoya  Netherlands Football Tight end Tennessee Titans [32]
Kehinde Oginni Hassan  Nigeria Basketball Defensive end Kansas City Chiefs [35]
Ayo Oyelola  UK Football Strong safety Jacksonville Jaguars [32]
2023 Junior Aho  France Football Defensive line Minnesota Vikings [36]
C. J. Okoye  Nigeria Football Defensive line Los Angeles Chargers [36]
Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi  Nigeria Football Offensive tackle Denver Broncos [36]
David Ebuka Agoha  Nigeria Football Defensive line Las Vegas Raiders [36]
Chukwuebuka Godrick  Nigeria Football Offensive tackle Kansas City Chiefs [36]
Roy Mbaeteka  Nigeria Football Offensive tackle Chicago Bears [36]
Kenneth Odumegwu  Nigeria Football Defensive line Green Bay Packers [36]
Max Pircher  Italy Handball Offensive tackle Detroit Lions [37][note 1]

See also


  1. ^ The Lions were originally assigned Australian tight end Patrick Murtagh, but he left the International Player Pathway Program due to a medical concern.[37]


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  5. ^ "International players added to four practice squads". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  6. ^ Bill Williamson, International practice-squad players assigned, ESPN, June 12, 2008.
  7. ^ NFL Expands International Practice Squad Program, The News Tribune, May 23, 2008.
  8. ^ NFL Undiscovered (video). NFL. 2016.
  9. ^ Malyon, Ed (February 23, 2017). "The NFL want talented young European athletes to enter the draft - here's how to be in with the chance of a lifetime". The Independent.
  10. ^ "An updated look at the Steelers 91-man roster with jersey numbers before Preseason Week 4". Behind the Steel Curtain. August 29, 2019.
  11. ^ "Bills' Wade and International Pathway Program: What fans need to know". newyorkupstate. August 19, 2019.
  12. ^ Warren, Matt (August 18, 2019). "Clarifying the Buffalo Bills roster status with running back Christian Wade". Buffalo Rumblings.
  13. ^ "What the Bills can do with RB Christian Wade". August 19, 2019.
  14. ^ "France's Anthony Dablé Signs Contract With New York Giants".
  15. ^ "Minnesota Vikings cut ties with German receiver Moritz Böhringer". American Football International. September 2, 2017.
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  17. ^ "Bath American footballer Alex Jenkins signs for NFL side New Orleans Saints for 2017 season".
  18. ^ "Bucs Add International Player to Practice Squad for 2017 Season".
  19. ^ "Panthers awarded international player". Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Moritz Boehringer added to Cincinnati Bengals roster".
  21. ^ "8 international players added to NFL rosters for 2018 Season".
  22. ^ "Eagles draft Australian rugby player Jordan Mailata".
  23. ^ "Browns assigned DB Tigie Sankoh to offseason roster from NFL's international program".
  24. ^ "Steelers sign former ruby star Christian Scotland-Williamson".
  25. ^ Charean, Williams (April 8, 2019). "Jets sign Valentine Holmes".
  26. ^ Wells, Adam (24 September 2019). "Jakob Johnson makes NFL debut with Patriots". Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  27. ^ "Miami Dolphins re-sign Brazilian Durval Queiroz Neto".
  28. ^ "NFL International player Christian Wade allocated to the Bills". Archived from the original on 9 April 2019.
  29. ^ a b c d "NFC East teams assigned international players for 2020". Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  30. ^ a b c d "Four players added to 2021 NFL rosters through Intentional Player Pathway program".
  31. ^ "Roundup: Washington signs Sammis Reyes from International Player Pathway Program".
  32. ^ a b c d "Four players added to AFC South rosters for 2022 season through NFL International Player Pathway program". May 3, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  33. ^ Eisen, Michael (April 13, 2022). "Mentored by Osi Umenyiora, Nigerian OT Roy Mbaeteka signs with Giants". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  34. ^ Urban, Darren (April 19, 2022). "Cardinals Sign Nigerian Offensive Lineman Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi". Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  35. ^ MacKenzie, Daniel (May 9, 2022). "Kansas City Chiefs sign NFL IPP's Kehinde Oginni Hassan".
  36. ^ a b c d e f g "International Player Pathway program adds eight players to NFL rosters for 2023 season". May 4, 2023. Retrieved May 24, 2023.
  37. ^ a b Birkett, Dave (May 22, 2023). "Detroit Lions add OT Max Pircher through NFL's International Pathways Program". Retrieved May 24, 2023.