The end of an NFL season means the end of a practice squad contract, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are keeping much of their season-ending practice squad around for the start of a new year.
The Buccaneers' season came to an end on Sunday with a last-second, 30-27 Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams. On Monday, the team re-signed 10 of its 16 practice squad players to reserve/futures contracts for the 2022 season. These contracts will take effect when the 2021 season ends after Super Bowl LVI. The players who got futures contracts were:
- RB Kenjon Barner
- K Jose Borregales
- TE Codey McElroy
- G John Molchon
- OLB Elijah Ponder
- DL Benning Potoa'e
- DL Willington Previlon
- CB Rashard Robinson
- DL Kobe Smith
- S Troy Warner
That means the contracts for the other six players on the Buccaneers' practice squad at the end of the season – wide receiver John Brown, tight end Darren Fells, quarterback Ryan Griffin, wide receiver John Hurst, tackle Brandon Walton and wide receiver Justin Watson – were allowed to expire and they are now free agents.
The Buccaneers made good use of their practice squad in 2021, particularly given the recently-adopted rule that allows a certain number of options to elevate those players for game days. The Bucs elevated practice squad players on 29 occasions over their 19 games, playoffs included, and those players were usually active for those games. In addition, a number of contributors started their Tampa Bay tenure on the practice squad before eventually being promoted to the active roster, such as Cyril Grayson, Pierre Desir and Rashard Robinson.
The majority of the players the Bucs signed to futures contracts on Monday are in their first two years in the NFL, with Barner and Robinson as the notable exceptions. All will get a chance to try to earn a spot on the 2022 roster, as Grayson and guard Nick Leverett did in 2021. Both Grayson and Leverett were signed to futures contract last February after the Super Bowl. That was also the case for McElroy, Molchon, Potoa'e and Smith, all of whom spent the entire past season on the Bucs' practice squad.
Borregales, Ponder and Warner all just completed their rookie seasons after entering the league as undrafted free agents. Borregales competed with veteran Ryan Succop for the Bucs' kicking job in last year's training camp and then remained around for the season as a potential fill-in if Succop were to become suddenly unavailable. Borregales won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top college kicker, with the Miami Hurricanes in 2020.