CHARLOTTE –The Panthers signed offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, who spent the entire 2014 season on the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster, to a future contract today. Hawkins appeared in one game for the Cowboys as a rookie, then spent last season on the Miami and San Francisco practice squads.
The Panthers previously signed wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, defensive end Larry Webster, guards David Yankey and Tyler Larsen, center Matt Masifilo, defensive tackle Eric Crume and cornerback Travell Dixon. Hamilton was a sixth-round pick by the Bengals in 2013. Webster was a fourth-round pick by the Lions in 2014, and Yankey was a fifth-round pick by the Vikings in 2014.
The contracts are referred to as "future" contracts because even though the players have signed, they do not officially become members of the roster until the beginning of the new league year – March 9.
Future contracts essentially allow teams to sign players for the 2016 season even though it has not begun yet. Only players who are not on an NFL team's 53-man active roster at the conclusion of the regular season are eligible for these contracts.