The 2021 regular ended less than 24 hours ago but the Detroit Lions are wasting no time diving into the offseason. On Monday, they announced that they signed nine players, all of whom were most recently on the Lions practice squad, to reserve/futures contracts.
Here’s a list of the nine players who were given contracts:
- QB Steven Montez
- WR Javon McKinley
- TE Shane Zylstra
- OT Dan Skipper
- DL Bruce Hector
- DL Eric Banks
- LB Tavante Beckett
- CB Parnell Motley
- CB Saivion Smith
A reserve/futures contract varies slightly from a traditional contract in a few key ways.
First, it can only be offered to Street Free Agents (SFA) and Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) that are not currently under contract. An SFA is a player that had a contract with an NFL organization the previous season, but was not on an active roster when the season concluded (practice squad players are the most common to fit the criteria).
Second, a futures contract is typically a league-minimum deal with no guaranteed money in any fashion, so at any time a team wishes to terminate the contract they can do so without penalty.
Third, a futures contract does not count against a team’s salary cap until the league new year and free agency begins. This allows teams to pay players to retain their rights from January through mid-March, while also maintaining their cap integrity. When the new year begins, the contracts become traditional deals and count against the salary cap.
Additionally, the Lions roster is now capable to be expanded to 90-players, so they can sign as many players to futures deal as the roster allows. Also, by signing a futures contract with the Lions, the above players can’t be poached by other teams—like was possible when they were on the practice squad—as they are now part of the Lions' active 90-man roster.