New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

On Tuesday afternoon, the Patriots took care of the first piece of business of the offseason. The team announced the signing of 11 practice squad players to future contracts for the 2023 season.

Future contracts are a device that allows NFL teams to maintain practice squad players into the following season. When a team’s season ends – as the Patriots’ did on Sunday – all practice squad players become free agents who are free to sign immediately instead of waiting for the new league year in March. At the same time, the NFL roster limit doesn’t increase to 90 players until that new league year, so if a team wants to keep players from the practice squad prior to March, it would have to open up a spot on the 53-man roster.

Instead, it can sign players to a future contract, which is basically an agreement that a new contract  – typically a minimum-money deal – will begin once the new league year does. This way, teams get to keep players they want to continue to work with, and players get job security without waiting multiple waves into free agency to sign, as well as getting to remain a part of an NFL team and getting access to the things that come with it.

  • The 11 players who got such contracts from the Patriots are…

    –RB J.J. Taylor
    –WR Tre Nixon
    –TE Matt Sokol
    –TE Scotty Washington
    –OL Hayden Howerton
    –DL LaBryan Ray
    –DL Jeremiah Pharms Jr.
    –LB Terez Hall
    –LB Calvin Munson
    –DB Brad Hawkins
    –DB Quandre Mosely

    Getting signed to a future contract hardly guarantees a final roster spot for a player. But there are some players on this list who should push for a role during training camp next year.

    The first such name that stands out is LaBryan Ray. Ray was graded as a potential mid-round pick coming out of Alabama last year, but injuries limited him to just 36 games over five years in college. Those concerns led to him going undrafted prior to signing in New England.

    With the Patriots, Ray pushed for a roster spot in camp last year but ended up on the practice squad. Part way through the season, he was moved to practice squad IR and didn’t see any time on the field as a rookie. If he’s healthy though, he should be in contention for a roster spot again in 2023.

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  • Quandre Mosely is another player on the defensive side of the ball who could make a roster push. A hybrid cornerback/safety, Mosley went undrafted and had stops with the Cowboys, Seahawks, and Buccaneers before signing with the Patriots late in the year and was elevated for one game.

    Mosely came onto the draft radar late last year after being one of the top performers at Kentucky’s pro day. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Mosely ran a 4.32 40-yard dash and recorded a 36-inch vertical. That kind of athleticism and his special teams background should position him well on a team that will be looking for upgrades in kick coverage in 2023.

    On offense, running back J.J. Taylor and wide receiver Tre Nixon should be back in the mix in 2023. Taylor originally signed with the Patriots as a UDFA in 2020, and has bounced back and forth between the roster and practice squad since. He’s appeared in 12 games, although suited up just once in 2022. Nixon was the Patriots’ seventh-round pick in 2022, and has spent the entirety of the last two seasons on the practice squad.

  • Aug 11, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon (82) returns a kick against the New York Giants during the first half of a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 11, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon (82) returns a kick against the New York Giants during the first half of a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

  • Five of the players who were on the Patriots’ practice squad to end the season did not get a future contract, at least not yet. That group is quarterback Garrett Gilbert, wide receiver Lynn Bowden, offensive lineman Bill Murray, linebacker Jamie Collins, and kicker Tristan Vizcaino.

    There could be a handful of reasons those players weren’t included in Tuesday’s signings. Some may still be negotiating, and have a deal coming. Others may want to hit free agency in March, and think that they can get a better deal or land somewhere that they’ll have a better shot at a roster spot. They may also just want time to weigh their options.

    The biggest surprise from that group of five is Murray, who has been with the team since joining as a UDFA in 2020. This past season, he switched from the defensive line to the offensive line and was elevated from the practice squad for the first time for the Week 13 game against Buffalo. Members of the team have spoken highly about his work ethic an attitude.

    Future contracts don’t have a set timeline for signing, so the Patriots could still reach a deal with the players above. The Patriots could also offer a future contract to any qualifying player, not just those who were on their own practice squad at the end of the year.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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