The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were hoping to be preparing for the NFC Championship but instead the team is beginning a long offseason. Tampa Bay announced the signing of 10 players to future/reserve contracts including speedy running back Kenjon Barner and tight end Codey McElroy.
Here are the additional players the Bucs signed to new deals: kicker Jose Borregales, guard John Molchon, linebacker Elijah Ponder, defensive lineman Benning Potoa’e, defensive lineman Willington Previlon, cornerback Rashard Robinson, defensive lineman Kobe Smith and safety Troy Warner.
Barner has blazing speed as evidenced by running 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash in 2013. The veteran back is one of the players Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians recently referenced as being ready to go when the team was dealing with significant injuries at the position.
Barner has played in nine games for the Buccaneers over the last two seasons. McElroy made two appearances for the Bucs this season, but found himself in a particularly loaded position group which included Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard.
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What Are NFL Future Contracts?
NFL teams use future contracts as a way to retain the rights of players, traditionally practice squad individuals, throughout the offseason. These players, if retained, will have an opportunity to make the roster heading into next season’s training camp. Bleacher Report’s Ty Schalter provided an explainer of how the reserve deals work.
“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.”
Arians Hinted at Upcoming Changes to the Roster This Offseason
The latest roster moves are the beginning of what is expected to be a busy offseason in Tampa. Several key Buccaneers will hit free agency including Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, Jason Pierre-Paul, Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead.
There is also uncertainty surrounding the future of Tom Brady who has yet to confirm he will play during the 2022 season despite being under contract for one more year. After the Bucs’ disappointing playoff loss to the Rams, Arians sounded like a coach who knew major changes were on the horizon.
“These guys are fighters,” Arians remarked January 23 during his postgame press conference. “They’ve shown it all year. I mean, 14-5 – whatever we are – but this team’s over … This team will not be back together. They never are and [I told the players to] make sure you say thank you to your teammates, and we’ll try to regroup this thing and come in next year.”
Last offseason, the Buccaneers had the good fortune of returning all 22 of their starters (along with Antonio Brown) from the Super Bowl. This season is likely to be different which means some of these players who signed future deals may be called on sooner rather than later when the regular season gets underway.