With the 2021 NFL Season now a part of the New England Patriots’ past, the team has already turned a sharp eye toward the future, specifically 2022.
New England reached agreement on futures contracts with wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson, Tre Nixon and Malcolm Perry, as well as running back Devine Ozigbo, offensive lineman William Sherman and kicker Quinn Nordin. The signings were confirmed via the NFL transaction wire on Monday.
What is a futures contract?
A futures contract may be offered to a player who did not finish the regular season on an active NFL roster. The contracts go into effect on the first day of the new league year in March, when rosters expand to a 90-man limit.
With the exception of Perry, the recent signees ended the 2021 season as a member of the Patriots practice squad. Perry was reported to have signed with the Pats on a futures deal last week.
Since joining the Pats in 2020, Wilkerson has been a mainstay on the team’s practice squad. The SE Missouri State product had an impressive showing during training camp. He saw the majority of his reps in an X-Receiver role, in conjunction with the team getting solid contributions at the X from both Nelson Agholor and N’Keal Harry. He also received notable work on special teams drills; at one point, alongside special teams captain. Matthew Slater. However, his preseason spotlight began to dim amidst issues with securing the catch. Though Wilkerson was rumored to be in line for a roster spot, he was released by the team during roster cutdown, and subsequently signed to the practice squad. The promising wideout put on an impressive performance in Week Seventeen’s 50-10 Pats’ blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wilkerson compiled four receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns in his most productive game as a pro.
Perry joined the league as a seventh round draft choice by the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Navy. The versatile 24-year-old was claimed by the Patriots prior to the start of the 2021 season, after his release from the Miami Dolphins during roster cut downs. However, Perry would never play a down in New England. The 24-year-old reached a settlement off injured reserve in November. Since that time, the former Navy Midshipman spent one month on the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad.
As a rookie in 2020, Perry played nine games with two starts and had nine catches for 92 yards, including a touchdown in Miami’s season finale at Buffalo. Perry also had three rushing attempts and returned one punt. Along with playing wide receiver, Perry also has the versatility to be an option at running back, as well as returning punts on special teams.
After being waived by the Jaguars at the conclusion of 2021 training camp, Ozigbo alternated second-tours-of-duty with both the Saints and Jaguars. Throughout his near three-season tenure in the NFL, he compiled 25 yards on 11 carries, as well as 13 receptions for 72 yards over 20 career games.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the shutdown of team facilities, Ozigbo was among those trying to make the best out of a tough situation amidst a challenging 2020 offseason. The running back found a means of satisfying his work ethic, while demonstrating his creativity in the process:
Since Nordin joined the team as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Michigan in May, fans and media alike have helped to cultivate the legend of his leg strength. During his four years with the Wolverines, Nordin made 42 out of 58 field goals. He also converted a 57-yard field goal at the end of the first half of the 2020 Citrus Bowl against Alabama, setting a record for the longest field goal in Citrus Bowl history. It was also the longest field goal made in Michigan's program history. During training camp, special teams captain, Matthew Slater, even compared Nordin’s leg to a “cannon” and expressed excitement on watching him develop. As training camp progressed, the legend of Quinn Nordin continued to grow. His kicks routinely split the uprights from impressive distances, often with room to spare. At one point, Nordin had yet to miss a kick inside the confines of Gillette Stadium. Nordin finished the preseason going 6-of-8 on field goals and 4-of-7 on extra points with longs of 48 and 50 yards. He was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the 2021 season with an abdomen injury. Nordin was released by the team on December 1, and subsequently signed to the practice squad two day later after clearing waivers.
Having been selected by the Pats in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Sherman started at both left and right tackle for Colorado, and might also be a candidate to move inside to the guard position. At 6’3”, 304-pounds, he has adequate size to block at the pro level. Sherman could be a swing tackle on both sides, and also has the potential to transition to guard, or even center. There are some concerns regarding his pass protection. However, has some upside as a zone blocker, due to solid movement and his ability to get set quickly. Sherman was a roster elevation for New England’s Week Five matchup with the Houston Texans, but did not register any stats from that game.
Having been drafted by the Pats in the seventh-round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Nixon has the distinction of being Ernie Adams’ final draft selection in the Patriots organization. The product of Central Florida projects as a vertical deep threat. He has NFL-level speed (he ran the 40 at a time of 4.43) and is able to use his speed to shed defenders at the line. Though he lacks some physicality, he is physical enough to make catches in tight coverage. Nixon could be a promising project in the slot in 2022.