Before 2006, June 1 meant a lot in the NFL. Now, it still has some meaning, although not nearly as much.
Prior to the last CBA extension before the lockout, teams had to choose between cutting a player before June 1 and taking the full cap hit in one year or waiting until after June 1 and spreading it over two seasons. That dynamic created a second wave of free agency that commenced as the June 1 cuts began to be made.
The labor deal finalized 11 years ago allowed each team to designate up to two players as a June 1 cap casualty, cutting the cord but nevertheless carrying the cap charge as if the player were on the roster until June 1 comes and goes. That device was incorporated into the 2011 labor deal, and it still remains in place.
So when the Cowboys released Tony Romo, they did so with the post-June 1 designation. That resulted in his $19.6 million cap hit being split into a $10.7 million charge in 2017 and an $8.9 million charge in 2018. But since his $14 million salary (and $24.7 million cap charge) remained on the books through June 1, the Cowboys will get as of Friday $14 million in cap space.
Via Field Yates of ESPN.com, other teams will pick up some cap space, too, but none will get nearly as much as the Cowboys. The Saints generate $7.8 million, the Jets get $6 million, the Lions realize $4.8 million, the Falcons pick up $4.25 million, and the Chargers acquire $2.5 million.
So why do teams cut guys before June 1 if the moves don’t hit the books until after that? It gives the player a maximum chance to find a new home (which is particularly useful if he has guaranteed money subject to offset language), and it avoids the requirement that the team permit into the facility for offseason workouts a player to whom his full salary would be owed if he’s injured on the premises.