ITP Glossary: Reserve / Future Contract

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From zone blocking to directional punting, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more abou

Reserve / Future Contract

A reserve / future contract is signed at the close of the regular season, before the start of the new league year, and the player is added to 90-man offseason roster. This is a standard player contract between an NFL club and a player and is subject to the same rules as a signing during the season. The key difference with a reserve / future contract designation is that with the NFL calendar year not beginning until March each year, the player will count against the 90 man roster on the first day of the league year, when the player becomes ‘active’.

These deals typically are two-year contracts for league minimum salaries, with little or no signing bonus. Players who are eligible for reserve / future contracts were not on an NFL active roster at the conclusion of the regular season. Players who were on an active roster are not eligible for reserve / future contracts, and cannot sign until the beginning of free agency after the start of the new league year. These are unsigned, or “street” free agents, and players who were recently on practice squads. As a reminder, practice squad contracts expire the day after Week 17, for all but the playoff teams – as there are no longer practices.

Most teams sign all of their practice squad players for the next season, but this time of year becomes a mini-recruiting period with teams contacting players on other teams’ practice squads, offering an opportunity if they think the player can help them in the upcoming season. As such, we will see a few players changing teams to put themselves in a better position moving forward.

This period is generally ignored by many, but as with any opportunity to improve a roster, it should be taken seriously. Some 2014-15 Reserve/Future examples include the pass protection skills of  Dion Lewis, the pass catching talents of Willie Snead, as well as Delvin BreauxTim Hightower, Kamar Aiken, Alejandro Villanueva, Stephen Hill, Nikita Whitlock, Matt Paradis, Spencer Ware, Terrelle Pryor, Jonas Gray, Jeff Demps.

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Dan Hatman wrote this entry. Follow Dan on Twitter @Dan_Hatman.

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