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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Max Gerber

Former Lions to watch in Birmingham Stallions vs. Arlington Renegades

The United Football League, a combination of former spring leagues XFL and USFL, is kicking off for their inaugural season this weekend, giving plenty of non-NFL players a new chance to take the field.

For many players, this is an opportunity to once again play professional football while also opening a door to get back into the NFL.

The first matchup of the weekend is the Birmingham Stallions against the Arlington Renegades. In this game, Lions fans may see some familiar names and faces on their screens.

Adrian Martinez – Quarterback, Birmingham Stallions

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – AUGUST 11: Adrian Martinez #18 of the Detroit Lions runs up the fieldin the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants at Ford Field on August 11, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Martinez signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2023. While with the team, he appeared in two preseason games. He completed nine pass attempts for 76 yards while picking up 24 yards and a score on the ground.

Martinez was waived by the Lions before the regular season began and did not return to the team. He is now the backup for the Stallions behind Matt Corral.

Jordan Thomas – Tight End, Birmingham Stallions

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jordan Thomas (47) at Grand Park in Westfield on Monday, August 2, 2021, on the second week of workouts of this summer’s Colts training camp. Head Coach Frank Reich reappeared at practice after being away for ten days after a COVID-19 positive test.Colts Get Their Coach Back On Week Two Of Colts Camp

Thomas’s time as a Lion was not very memorable. He signed with the Lions on a reserve/futures deal at the start of 2022 and did not even make it to training camp. He was released in March of that same year.

Thomas bounced around the league and also saw time on two XFL squads. Interestingly enough, he split his time between tight end and outside linebacker in those years following his short stint with Detroit. He is now slated to be a third-string tight end for Birmingham.

Mark Gilbert – Cornerback, Birmingham Stallions

Jan 9, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Mark Gilbert (40) walks off the field just after the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Gilbert may have spent a short time with the Lions as well, but he did shine in one particular game for the Lions back in 2021.

As an undrafted rookie, Gilbert was poached off of Pittsburgh’s practice squad to bolster the depth at cornerback. In his second game as a Lion, against his former team, he stepped up in a big way and logged a pass deflection as well as a forced fumble. His late-game heroics helped break a losing streak for Detroit, albeit with a 16-16 tie.

Luis Perez – Quarterback, Arlington Renegades

Jul 28, 2018; Irvine, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Luis Perez (9) throws a pass during training camp at UC Irvine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After facing a slew of injuries at the quarterback position in 2019, the Lions brought in Luis Perez near the end of the preseason. His tenure as a Detroit Lion lasted all of four days. He appeared in one preseason game where he completed one pass for five yards.

Perez is now the starting quarterback for the Renegades.

Will Clarke – Defensive End, Arlington Renegades

Oct 22, 2017; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Will Clarke (94) against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Clarke is another former Lion who is easy to forget ever being with the organization. As an outside linebacker at the time, Clarke signed with Detroit in August of 2020 and was waived two weeks later before the season began.

Jamar Summers – Cornerback, Arlington Renegades

CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 29: Jamar Summers #21 of the Detroit Lions celebrates with Mike Ford #38 after intercepting a pass during the third quarter of the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated Detroit 20-16. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Summers signed with Detroit in August 2019 after a short standout career in the AAF.

Despite all of the hype around his signing, he had a very quiet preseason as a Lion. He appeared in three preseason games for Detroit and recorded no tackles. He did, however, come away with an interception against the Cleveland Browns.

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