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What does it mean when the Jets sign someone to a reserve/future contract?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Over the coming days and weeks, you will hear that the Jets are signing players to reserve/future contracts. You might wonder what these are.

Every team is allowed to bring 90 players to training camp each year. The reserve/future contract allows them to start signing players for camp once the regular season ends.

The reason for the reserve/future name is the 2017-18 league year still is not over. These players are being signed for the 2018-19 year so the contract is for a future season.

Who is eligible to sign one of these deals? Anybody who is currently a free agent is. Once a team’s season ends, its practice squad ceases to exist. Those players become free agents. To retain them for camp the next year, the team has to sign the players to reserve/future contracts. Teams also might sign training camp players from the year before who failed to make the 53 man roster or practice squad.

Can other teams sign players from the Jets practice squad to reserve/future contracts? Yes, those players are free agents and free to sign with any team. The Jets can sign players from the practice squads of teams not currently in the postseason since those practice squads are gone.

What about players who are about to become free agents like Demario Davis and Morris Claiborne? Could other teams sign them to reserve/future contracts? The answer is no. Even though the team has no more games to play, they are still under contract. Their contracts do not end until the next league year begins so the Jets still have an exclusive timeframe to negotiate with them. The same goes for other teams. The Jets can’t negotiate with free agents to be under contract for the other 31 teams until the start of the league year.