Detroit Lions sign 12 players to reserve/futures contracts

As is custom after a season ends, the Detroit Lions have signed 12 players to reserve/futures deals.
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions season of course ended with Sunday's NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. So it's the offseason now, and on that front the Lions announced the signing of 11 players to reserve/futures contracts on Tuesday.

All 11 finished the season on the Lions' practice squad, with many spending there and with the team all season.

  • WR Tom Kennedy
  • RB Jermar Jefferson
  • OL Connor Galvin
  • CB Craig James
  • S Brandon Joseph
  • DL Chris Smith
  • LB Mitchell Agude
  • WR Maurice Alexander
  • RB Jake Funk
  • OL Michael Niese
  • OL Matt Farniok

On Jan. 31, the Lions made wide receiver Daurice Fountain the 12th player they've signed to a futures deal. Fountain was also on the practice squad all season.

Detroit Lions sign 12 players to reserve/futures deals; what does that mean?

Players who end the season on a team's active roster, including upcoming free agents, are under contract until the new league year starts. That is obvious, and well-known.

Practice squad players, on the other hand, are free agents as soon as the season ends. A Reserve/Futures deal is a contract that doesn't go into effect until the start of the next league year. They are typically non-guaranteed contracts for the league minimum.

With the ability to have a 90-man roster all offseason, futures deals allow teams to work toward filling out that maximum and give players a chance to earn a spot when offseason work starts. At the start of the new league year, those contracts then count toward the 90-man offseason roster and the team's salary cap calculation.

The headliner of Tuesday's futures signings for the Lions is wide receiver Tom Kennedy, who has been on and off the roster since 2019 and often been a camp/preseason standout. He suffered a shoulder injury in training camp last summer, and he was brought back on the practice squad in late-November.

Jefferson is another familiar name. A seventh-round pick by the Lions in 2021, he ended this season on the practice squad IR. Alexander has spent the last two seasons in Detroit.

Galvin and Joseph are the only ones of the 11 signings on Tuesday who saw action for the Lions this season. Joseph played 14 special teams snaps over two games, and Galvin played seven special team snaps in one game.

The more experienced players who ended the season on the Lions' practice squad (Zach Ertz, David Blough, Jason Cabinda, Daurice Fountain, Michael Schofield and Julian Okwara) may want to test the free agent market. International player Max Pircher will likely return to the league’s developmental program.


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