As a matter of NFL procedures, the contracts for the nine players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad expired when the 2015 regular season came to an end. However, the team moved quickly to keep all nine around for 2016.
INFO: 2016 OFFSEASON CALENDAR
On Tuesday, the Bucs announced that they have re-signed the following players: center Josh Allen, wide receiver Andre Davis, guard Antoine Everett, center Ben Gottschalk, safety Gerod Holliman, defensive end Martin Ifedi, defensive tackle Derrick Lott, cornerback C.J. Roberts and cornerback Joel Ross. Those players comprised the entirety of the team's practice squad in the final week of the season.
Technically, the nine players were signed to "reserve/futures" contracts, which means they will take effect when the 2016 league year begins in March. Only players who were not on an NFL team's active roster at the end of the 2015 season are eligible for such contracts.
Re-signing all or most of the practice squad for the upcoming season is a common practice, and that makes sense since the players on that crew are considered talents worth developing. Two players who were signed to futures contracts in the early days of 2015 eventually saw time on the active roster the next fall: center Jeremiah Warren and defensive tackle-turned-offensive guard Matthew Masifilo. The 2014 list of futures deals included Patrick Murray, who became the team's placekicker in 2014, and Jacob Schum, who won the Bucs' punting job in 2015.
Several of the players who finished the year on the Bucs' practice squad were with the team for much of the season. The 10 practice squad spots were very fluid throughout the fall but Everett occupied one of them for the last 14 weeks. Allen briefly made the 53-man roster to start the season and then later returned to the practice squad. However, most of those nine players were relatively new additions, including three – Holliman, Roberts and Ross – who just came aboard in Week 17. This, too, is a common practice, as they were likely players the team had hoped to bring aboard in order to quickly re-sign them in the new year.
Behind-the-scenes photos of the Buccaneers vs. Panthers game in Charlotte.
The futures contracts for these nine players will take effect on March 9, which is also the first day of unrestricted free agency.
In the last two weeks before the end of the season, the Buccaneers also promoted four players from their practice squad to the 53-man roster: wide receiver Evan Spencer, running back Mike James, safety Kimario McFadden and tight end Tevin Westbrook.