A reserve future contract in football is a contract that signs a player for the upcoming season but requires them to wait until the roster size has been increased to join the active roster.
During the football season, there are a total of 53 players on each team’s active roster. These players on the roster cannot be signed by other teams.
Each team also carries a practice squad featuring several more players, these players can be signed by other teams throughout the season.
When a team’s season ends they must keep their active roster players at 53 until the new league year begins. Once a new league year begins a team is able to have a 90-man active roster for training camp and OTA’s.
This leaves all of the players on their practice squad vulnerable to being signed by another team at any point from when a team’s season ends until the roster limits increase in March.
Now let’s say a team had a young player on the practice squad who they want to keep around for the next season.
Without cutting a player from their 53-man roster this player cannot join the active roster. This is where the reserve future contract comes in.
The team can offer a player a reserve future contract which will protect the player from being poached by another team during the offseason.
Once the player signs this contract no other teams can sign this player. And when the new league year starts the roster size will increase to 90 and the player will be part of the team.
In short, a reserve futures contract allows a team to protect a player they want to sign until their roster is large enough to sign him.
Who Can Sign These Contracts?
Now that you understand what a reserve future contract is you may be wondering what players can sign these sorts of agreements.
The first thing you should know about players that sign these contracts is that they do not tend to be of the highest quality. Only players that are free agents or on practice squads are eligible to sign reserve future contacts.
This means every single player on an active roster is not going to be able to sign one of these deals in the offseason.
Instead, these contracts are almost exclusively for practice squad players and veterans that have become free agents.
Due to the quality of these players, the payout of reserve future contracts is typically quite low. These deals rarely pay the player more than the league minimum.
Do These Players Get Paid In The Offseason?
Despite signing these deals right as the offseason begins reserve future contracts do not play payers out throughout the offseason.
Instead, they are better described as an agreement that a contract will be signed once the league year starts.
Once the league year starts these players will be paid out on their contract just like any other NFL player.
That concludes our guide to reserve future contracts learn about dead money in football to understand how contracts and the salary cap work in the NFL.