The Eagles got a jump-start on their long offseason by inking a few players to futures contracts. Eight guys, in total.
NFL teams are allowed to negotiate futures contracts with prospective players as soon as the season ends. Obviously, the Eagles wasted no time. They agreed to terms with the following eight players: WR River Cracraft, TE Alex Ellis, WR Marcus Green, DT Albert Huggins, QB Kyle Lauletta, WR Marken Michel, C Keegan Render, CB Tremon Smith.
Any player not on the active roster is eligible for a futures contract and doesn’t count against this year’s salary cap or 53-man roster limit. They get rolled over into the 2020 season.
It’s a way for teams to stash players they think could be future stars without taking up a roster spot. Or guys the organization feel could be worth an active roster spot in the future. According to former NFL executive Andrew Brandt, it’s “a great way of locking up talented young guys on the cusp of breaking out.”
Unlike practice-squad players, those agreeing to futures contracts cannot be signed by other teams. The Eagles own their rights. The contract itself is a minimal-salary deal, with no bonuses or incentives.
Meet the ‘Futures’ of the Philadelphia Eagles
Who are these guys signed to futures contracts? Well, all eight names should sound slightly familiar since they had been on the Eagles’ practice squad.
According to the team’s website, linebacker Alex Singleton was a notable name who was signed to a futures contract last year. He ended up on the 53-man roster at the end of this season. This year’s list comes with nice potential.
Receiver River Cracraft was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Dec. 24 after the Denver Broncos released him. The 6-foot, 198-pounder has been labeled as a traditional slot receiver in the NFL, thanks to great hands and not a lot of speed. He has one career catch for 44 yards, along with 12 punt returns for 40 yards.
Tight end Alex Ellis nearly made the Eagles’ 53-man roster coming out of training camp, then found a home on their practice squad. The 26-year-old was put on the active roster early in the year when Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert were dealing with injuries. Ellis saw action in three games this year for Philadelphia. He has three career catches for 11 yards.
Receiver Marcus Green was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1 after being cut by the Atlanta Falcons. The 5-foot-8, 191-pounder has a reputation as a speedster — 4.39 40-time at his pro day — and received consideration to be called up when injuries ravished the position. In the end, Green stayed on the practice squad. He has never appeared in an NFL game but finished his college career with 2,698 and 23 touchdowns.
Defensive tackle Albert Huggins played in four games for Philadelphia this season, including a career day versus New England when he notched two tackles. The undrafted free agent out of Clemson gave them a big body — at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds — on the interior of the defensive line and made a name for himself as a run-stopper. He spent time on the Patriots’ roster after the Eagles released him earlier in the year.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta spent the entire 2019 season on the Eagles’ practice squad and was the one throwing passes to the players that got forced into action on the active roster. Guys like Boston Scott, Robert Davis and Greg Ward. Lauletta is a Philly-area native having attended Downington East High School. He previously served as a backup for the New York Giants where he appeared in two games and didn’t complete a pass in five attempts.
Receiver Marken Michel was another player who impressed in training camp but never made it onto the 53-man roster. He almost snaked a roster spot from Mack Hollins after hauling in a 75-yard touchdown against Tennessee in the preseason. Michel, who is the older brother of Patriots RB Sony Michel, has never seen action in a regular-season game.
Center Keegan Render was first signed to the practice squad on Oct. 16 after going undrafted out of Iowa. He was named third-team Big 10 in college and was a permanent team captain. The 6-foot-4, 307-pounder has yet to play in an NFL game. He could be a possible insurance policy if Jason Kelce does indeed decide to retire.
Cornerback Tremon Smith joined the practice squad on Dec. 4 after being waived by the Green Bay Packers. He came over with a reputation as a special-teams ace, particularly as a kick returner. Smith has 46 career kick returns for 1,189 yards (25.8 average) in parts of two seasons with the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. His speed is undeniable but issues surrounding ball security (three fumbles) have haunted him.
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