On Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins signed 12 players to reserve/futures contracts allowing all dozen to remain in South Florida for the 2021 offseason. On Thursday, the team added one more. Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald 2020 undrafted free agent Kirk Merritt decided to stick with the Dolphins after considering some other options for his future. Merritt’s decision comes just before the window to sign players to reserve/futures contracts closes.
A reserve/futures contract in the NFL differs slightly from the deals you see players sign when free agency opens or the NFL Draft concludes. Though teams can start signing players to futures contracts at the conclusion of the regular, the deals do not take effect until the start of the new league year that offseason. The deal will count against the coming season’s salary cap and 90-man offseason roster limit, and in the meantime, the player is unable to sign with another team. Any player who was not on an active roster at the conclusion of the regular season can sign a futures contract with a team (including unrestricted free agents and practice squad players). Futures deals are generally worth league-minimum salaries tiered out by a respective player’s number of accrued seasons in the NFL.
After going undrafted out of Arkansas State, Merritt signed with the Dolphins and was with the team all the way through the 2020 offseason. The talented rookie was waived on September 4 following training camp before being signed to the team’s practice squad two days later.
Merritt was promoted to the active roster before Miami’s Week 9 matchup with the Arizona cardinals and played a handful of special teams snaps and one offensive snap. After reverting back to the practice squad, he was once more promoted for Miami’s Week 17 matchup with the Buffalo Bills but was designated as inactive on game day. He reverted back to the team’s practice squad the following day.