Hall of Fame
What's a Futures Contract?
It's the same as a regular active-roster contract, with the regular rules for minimum veteran salaries, cap charges, signing bonuses, etc. The only difference is that it doesn't take effect until the start of the next League Year (this year, that's March 11 at 4 p.m, per CBS Sports).
Teams can sign players to futures contracts as soon as the previous regular season is over, but the contract won't count against the salary cap or 53-man limit. Instead, it'll count against the salary cap and 90-man camp limit of the following season.
In the meantime, the player goes on the reserve/futures list and can't be signed by any other team.
Who's Eligible for a Futures Contract?
Any player who wasn't on an active roster at the end of the outgoing regular season, according to Andrew Brandt of NationalFootballPost.com. So, if a player was an unrestricted free agent or on any team's practice squad, after Week 17, they can be signed to a futures contract.
Here's the rub of the futures contract: For the most part, they're used on players who weren't quite good enough to justify an active roster spot this season but who teams think just might be worth an active roster spot next season. In many cases, this means teams locking up players currently on their own practice squad or another team's.
Brandt explained that this is a great way of locking up talented young guys on the cusp of breaking out...
Since practice-squad players can be poached by any team willing to sign them to an active contract, a futures deal ensures they'll be in the fold once OTAs and training camp roll aroundpeace of mind for front offices that would rather be concentrating on keeping its top talent and wooing key veterans at the start of free agency, not scrapping over players who may not make the team.
There's no limit to how many futures contracts a team can sign, as long as it will be under the 90-man roster cap at the beginning of the league year.