The waiver system is entering its lull, but the NFL transaction wire is far from a barren place in January.
Since Monday, teams on the outside of the playoff picture have begun to sign members of their practice squads to reserve-futures contracts with the 2017 season in mind. And free agents who did not finish the regular season on a roster have turned the same direction, agreeing to contracts with teams both in and out of contention ahead of the new league year.
The New England Patriots are not yet among those clubs signing players to deals leading up to March 7. However, that has been how New England either acquired or retained the likes of running backs Dion Lewis and Jonas Gray, fullback James Develin, wideout Andre Holmes and guard Chris Barker over the years.
And players from Patriots past have started to agree to future deals around the league as well.
Here’s a glance down the list of onetime Patriots filtering in.
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson – Cardinals: A 2013 second-round pick out of Marshall, Dobson caught 53 passes for 698 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons with the Patriots before being waived in September. The 25-year-old target proceeded to have two stints with the Detroit Lions in 2016. He signed a futures contract with Arizona on Thursday.
Running back Stephen Houston – Ravens: The Indiana product signed with New England as an undrafted rookie in 2014, but was waived after rushing for seven yards and a fumble on three carries in his preseason debut. Houston finished out his rookie preseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent 2015 out of football before returning with Baltimore this past summer. Houston later rejoined the Ravens on the practice squad, and the 25-year-old back inked a futures contract with the organization on Monday.
Offensive tackle Blaine Clausell – Panthers: Clausell originally entered the league as a Ravens undrafted addition in 2015 before logging two months on the Patriots’ practice squad to begin the regular season. The 24-year-old Mississippi State product reconvened with the Ravens following his release from New England, and has also logged time on the Washington Redskins’ 53-man roster as well as Carolina’s practice squad. The Panthers signed Clausell to a futures deal on Monday.
Wide receiver Josh Boyce – Browns: Boyce broke in as a Patriots fourth-round pick out of Texas Christian in 2013, and appeared in 10 games over his tenure with the team while accruing nine receptions for 121 yards and nine kickoff returns for 214 yards. Boyce, who split part of 2014 on New England’s practice squad and all of 2015 on injured reserve, signed with the Indianapolis Colts to begin 2016 before eventually joining Cleveland’s practice squad. The Browns signed the 25-year-old to a futures contract on Monday.
Tight end Steven Scheu – Broncos: The Vanderbilt product landed in New England as an undrafted rookie in the spring, and caught two passes for 24 yards over the course of three preseason contests before being waived. Scheu went on to sign to Denver’s practice squad in October, where the 24-year-old finished off 2016 before agreeing to a reserve-futures pact on Monday.
Tight end Austin Traylor – Broncos: Traylor, who checked in as a Dallas Cowboys undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin in May, spent time on Dallas’ practice squad and also the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad before signing to New England’s in November. The 23-year-old tight end was released by the Patriots 12 days later and was briefly with the Ravens before signing to Denver’s practice squad in December. Denver re-signed Traylor to a futures deal on Monday.
Linebacker Kevin Snyder – Broncos: The former Rutgers linebacker had stops with the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers prior to joining the Patriots’ practice squad in 2015. Snyder, then an undrafted rookie, was later elevated to New England’s 53-man roster leading up to the AFC Championship Game versus Denver, but was eventually released with an injury settlement in September. The Broncos signed the 24-year-old to the practice squad last month. He signed a futures contract on Monday.
Tight end Bryce Williams – Rams: The Patriots signed Williams as a rookie free agent by way of Marshall and East Carolina last May. Williams went on to appear in two preseason contests and caught one pass while with the Patriots before being waived at the cut to 53 in September. The 23-year-old signed to Los Angeles’ practice squad after clearing waivers and stayed in the fold with a futures contract on Tuesday.
Running back Bishop Sankey – Vikings: A 2014 Tennessee Titans second-round draft choice out of Washington, Sankey was part of the Patriots’ practice squad from September to November of 2016. But the Kansas City Chiefs signed Sankey off New England’s practice squad at that juncture, and after clearing waivers, Minnesota later added the 24-year-old to their practice squad. Sankey agreed to a futures deal with the Vikings on Monday.
Safety Cedric Thompson – Vikings: Among New England’s reserve-futures signings last January was Thompson, a 2015 Miami Dolphins fifth-rounder out of Minnesota who finished his rookie year on the Patriots’ practice squad. The 23-year-old defensive back was later waived by the Patriots in August and made two stops on Minnesota’s practice squad this season before signing his futures contract on Monday.
Wide receiver Jonathan Krause – Titans: Krause, who went undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2014, first entered the league with the Browns before signing to the Patriots’ practice squad in October of his rookie campaign. Krause earned a Super Bowl XLIX ring while with the organization, and has spent the last two seasons between four teams. The 24-year-old was signed to Tennessee’s practice squad in November before returning on a futures deal Monday.
Defensive tackle A.J. Francis – Redskins: The Patriots claimed Francis off waivers from the Dolphins in September of 2013, but the former undrafted free agent out of Maryland would be signed back to Miami’s active roster off New England’s practice squad that November. Francis has been with an additional three clubs since then, including Washington, who rostered the 26-year-old on both the practice squad and the 53 in 2016. Francis signed a futures deal on Monday.
Defensive end Rufus Johnson – Redskins: Johnson signed a reserve-futures contract with the Patriots in early 2015, and the former New Orleans Saints sixth-round pick via Tarleton State proceeded to crack New England’s active roster that upcoming season. Though after one appearance and one tackle, Johnson was placed on the non-football illness list and was ultimately released by New England after a short stay on the team’s practice squad this September. The 26-year-old edge-rusher signed to the Redskins’ practice squad late last month before agreeing to a futures deal on Monday.