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Football 101: What are Reserve/Futures contracts in the NFL?

We’re starting a new series here on SteelerAddicts called Football 101. Cool name right?  Anyways, for the avid football fan,  things that we’ll cover in this series may be a bit of “old hat”. However for those that aren’t as rabid as others, and even those who maybe are but don’t know everything there is to know, this is the series for you.  Each week we’ll try and cover one part of the NFL and break it down into every day terms.

So just what are these “Reserve/Futures” contracts that you hear about in the offseason so much?

Basically, when a player is signed to “reserve/futures” contracts means they are being signed for the upcoming  season even though that season does not officially begin until the official start of the league’s new year as outlined by the NFL. Only players who were not on any NFL team’s active roster when the previous season ended are eligible for these types of contracts. If they were under contract, then they would remain so until the league’s new year starts. Players who were on practice squads at the end of the season are eligible to sign with any team. Hence the reason that you see many practice squad players being signed by their current team for the upcoming year to a reserve/futures contract. That way the team can continue to work with a player they’re familiar with and hopefully get them ready for an eventual roster spot on game day.

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