In the days following the NFL regular season, many players sign an NFL futures contract with teams. Let’s take a look at what it means for a player to sign an NFL futures contract, what it means for their earnings, as well as which players can be signed to a futures contract and when.
What’s an NFL Futures Contract?
An NFL futures contract is essentially exactly what it says it is. It is a contract that secures an NFL player to a team for the future. The reason it is designated as a “futures contract” is that the player is not officially under contract until the start of the following league season.
The reason that differentiation is important is that the player’s contract does not count against the salary cap or the roster limit for the current season. Instead, it is credited against the following year’s salary cap, and the player counts against the offseason 90-man roster limit.
However, it is crucial to note that once a player signs a futures contract, they are placed on a reserve/futures list and cannot negotiate with other teams. Unlike with practice squads, teams cannot sign other teams’ players with a futures contract. That means NFL general managers and coaches can be confident in having the bottom part of their roster settled for OTAs and training camp.
How Much Does an NFL Player Make on a Futures Contract?
Unlike practice-squad contracts, futures contracts do not have a differing value from a standard NFL contract. A player signing a futures contract will often be signed to a minimum value contract for their level of NFL experience. The deals usually do not contain much, if any, signing bonus. However, if there is a player that is being coveted by a couple of NFL teams, they could get themselves a bigger contract than the usual minimum-level deals.
Who’s Eligible for a Futures Contract?
There are specific rules as to who can sign an NFL futures contract. Any player who was on an active roster when the previous regular season ended is not eligible for one. That leaves just players who were either signed to a practice squad or were unrestricted free agents when the season ended.