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Reserve/Futures contracts: What are they?

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Explaining the mysteries of the reserve/futures contract, and looking for other questions from the Big Blue View community.

Curtis Painter signed a reserve/futures contract with the Giants
Curtis Painter signed a reserve/futures contract with the Giants
David Welker

Since the 2012 season ended for the New York Giants the team has been busy signing players to reserve/futures contracts as they begin formulating their 2013 off-season roster. The question of what exactly these reserve/futures contracts are has come up.

Technically, it goes like this. The 2013 NFL league season, when the league is considered open for business, does not begin until March 12. Players signed between now and then are signed to these 'reserve/futures' deals because they are being signed for a season that has not officially begun.

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. That means players who were on practice squads or prospective players who were out of football entirely at the end of a season can be signed to these contracts. True free agency does not begin until the league opens for business.

Have any other questions? E-mail them to me and we will try to put together a mailbag, probably for Friday.

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