The Super Bowl is only two days away but the New England Patriots are already firmly “on to 2018”. They better be after their title game loss against the Philadelphia Eagles and the exit of both offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. One part of getting ready for the next run at the Lombardi Trophy is signing free agents – or preventing players from hitting the open market next month.
The Patriots will be doing just, according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, when they are signing five members of their practice squad to future contracts:
The Patriots will be signing Riley McCarron, Cody Hollister, Jason King, David Jones and Ryan Lewis to future contracts, according to a source. I’d imagine a few more practice squadders will be added to that list shortly.
Wide receivers Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister, offensive lineman Jason King, and defensive backs David Jones and Ryan Lewis all entered the league as undrafted rookies in 2017 and joined the Patriots' practice squad before or during the season. The five players ended the year on New England's scout team and were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents following the season.
Over the course of the year, four of the five players – all but King – have frequently been recipients of the Patriots' practice player of the week award: While McCarron, Hollister and Lewis received the honor four separate times, Jones was named a practice player of the week a team-high six times.
Re-signing them now gives the five men another chance to make an impression with the Patriots and potentially earn a spot on a 53-man roster that will likely see some turnover in the upcoming weeks. As Howe notes in his tweet, other members of New England's practice squad will likely be offered new future contracts as well.
UPDATE [02/06, 5:02 pm ET]: According to ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, the following four practice squad players were also signed to future contracts:
OC James Ferentz
DB Damarius Travis
TE Will Tye
CB Jomal Wiltz
This leaves only one member of New England's final practice squad – linebacker Trevor Reilly – unaccounted for.
UPDATE [02/06, 5:07 pm ET]: The Patriots have confirmed all of the moves, including signing the above-mentioned Reilly to a contract.