The Buccaneers made a series of roster moves on Monday, the type that always follows the end of the regular season. Getting a head start on fleshing out the 80-man roster for the offseason, Tampa Bay signed 12 players to what are technically called "Reserve/Future Contracts."
The reserve/future terminology indicates that while the players signed this week, their new deals actually begin when the new league year opens in March instead of counting against the current roster limit. This option allows all 32 teams to approach the pool of available free agents on a level playing field, regardless of whether or not they remain in the playoffs.
The 12 players signed to reserve/future contracts on Monday were:
- DT David Hunter
- K Patrick Murray
- LS Patrick Scales
- P Jacob Schum
Players are eligible to sign reserve/future contracts with any team if they were not on a 53-man roster at the end of the regular season. That includes any players who were on practice squads; the contract of a practice squad player is automatically terminated as soon as his team's season comes to an end. In the list above, Anthony, Cleary, Daniels, Dawkins, Felder, Foster, Rodgers and Streeter were all on Tampa Bay's practice squad when the season ended; now they'll have a chance to compete for a spot on the active roster during the 2014 offseason.
That means the four newcomers on the list are Hunter, Murray, Scales and Schum.
The 6-2, 303-pound Hunter played his college ball at Houston and entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in the same town, signing with the Houston Texans in 2012. He started his rookie season on the Texans' practice squad and was later promoted to the active roster but saw no game action before landing on injured reserve. Hunter went to training camp with the Texans again this past summer but was waived in the final roster cuts. At the University of Houston, Hunter played in 51 games and recorded 160 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks.
The 6-3, 248-pound Scales will get another chance to catch on as an NFL long-snapper after previously spending time with the Baltimore Ravens (2011-12), the Miami Dolphins (2013) and the New York Jets (2013). A Utah State grad, Scales first signed with the Ravens in the summer of 2011 but did not make the active roster. He returned for another training camp with Baltimore in 2012, then split his 2013 offseason between Miami and the Jets. Originally a walk-on at Utah State, Scales earned a scholarship in 2008 and handled the Aggies' long-snapping duties for the next four years.
Rounding out the new trio of specialists signed to futures contracts on Monday is Schum, the former University of Buffalo punter who had a two-month stint with the Cleveland Browns last spring. Schum (5-11, 211) handled the Bulls' punting duties in 2010 and 2011, recording a gross average of 38.7 yards on 119 kicks. He did not sign with an NFL team during the 2012 offseason but managed to catch on with the Browns in March of 2013.