The Dallas Cowboys revealed the team has signed 13 players to Future/Reserve contracts as the offseason officially begins. Quarterback Ben DiNucci, speedy running back Ito Smith and fellow rusher JaQuan Hardy headlined the roster moves.
The Cowboys also signed the following players: tackle Isaac Alarcon, linebacker Devante Bond, corner Kyron Brown, tight end Ian Bunting, tackle Aviante Collins, safety Tyler Coyle, receiver Robert Foster, center Braylon Jones, running back Nick Ralston and wideout Brandon Smith.
Hardy is a familiar name for some Cowboys fans as one of the players prominently featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Hardy appeared in three games this season notching four carries for 29 yards and a touchdown.
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What Is an NFL Reserve/Future Contract?
All 13 players finished the season on the Cowboys practice squad, per Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher. What is the significance of Reserve contracts?
Typically, NFL teams sign players, often practice squad members, to a Future contract to allow the franchise to hold their rights throughout the offseason. Bleacher Report’s Ty Schalter detailed how the Reserve/Future contracts work in the NFL.
“It’s the same as a regular active-roster contract, with the regular rules for minimum veteran salaries, cap charges, signing bonuses, etc.,” Schalter detailed. “The only difference is that it doesn’t take effect until the start of the next League Year…
“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.”
DiNucci Has Been a Favorite of McCarthy
The DiNucci signing is sure to garner the most interest among Cowboys fans and the team has plenty of competition at the quarterback position behind Dak Prescott. Cooper Rush won the backup quarterback spot in the preseason, and the Cowboys also claimed former Panthers signal caller Will Grier off waivers in September 2021.
Despite his inconsistent play in limited opportunities, DiNucci has remained a favorite of Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. The Cowboys coach once compared DiNucci to former NFL veteran Marc Bulger.
“Very accurate,” McCarthy described DiNucci in October 2020, per ESPN’s Todd Archer. “Reminds me of a young Marc Bulger, someone that just, as you look for comparables, he is a young man that has played the position his whole life. He will be an excellent addition to our quarterback room as you continue to develop that room with our other two young guys [Cooper Rush and Clayton Thorson] and [starter] Dak [Prescott].”
Stephen Jones: Cowboys Could Have ’15 to 25 New Faces Next Year’
The Cowboys roster is expected to look remarkably different next season with 23 players set to hit free agency, per Spotrac. Many of these individuals played key roles during the 2021 season. During a January 17 interview with Dallas’ 105.3 the Fan, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones noted that the team could have “15 to 25 new faces next year.”
“So, it’s a tough time,” Jones explained. “I mean, unfortunately in the NFL, the way this works, you know, there’ll be 15 to 25 new faces next year. So, it’s a great group of men [in] terms of they had a really nice season, earned the No. 3 seed. We just weren’t able to get over the hump in the playoffs and that’s, as I said, that’s disappointing.”