Some teams pick up extra cap space today

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At one point in the life of real (mostly) NFL free agency, June 2 was a big day.  Under labor deals finalized before 2006 (and, of course, after free agency began), teams could cut players on June 2 with reduced cap consequences.

It created a second wave of free agency, and a spike in NFL news and interest as the media chased down and/or speculated on who would be cut as of June 2, and where they would land.

As of 2006, teams received the ability to cut two players per franchise after the start of the league year in March, and to designate them as post-June 1 cuts.  This dynamic, coupled with the willingness of plenty of teams to absorb the full cap charge resulting from cutting a guy in the current year because plenty of teams have plenty of cap space, has turned the second wave of free agency into a puddle of Brownian motion (look it up, it’ll count as the one new thing you learn today).

This year, 10 teams took advantage of the ability to use the post-June 1 designation.  Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, they are the Bills, Cardinals, Chargers, Cowboys, Dolphins, Falcons, Panthers, Raiders, Ravens, and Steelers.

The players who were cut with the post-June 1 designation are, based on the official PFT Commodore 64’s database of Brownian motion (aren’t you glad you looked it up?), former Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, former Cardinals guard Adam Snyder, former Chargers tackle Jared Gaither, former Cowboys linebacker Marcus Spears, former Dolphins linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby, former Falcons tackle Tyson Clabo, former Panthers linebacker James Anderson, former Raiders safety Michael Huff, former Steelers tackle Willie Colon, and former Ravens safety Bernard Pollard.

The Raiders did not cut Richard Seymour with the post-June 1 designation; they elected to void his contract in February.

Here’s how it all works.  Let’s assume a player signs a five-year deal with a $5 million signing bonus.  Ordinarily, $1 million would be charged to each of the five years of the deal to account for the signing bonus.  If, after two seasons, the team decides to move on, cutting the player before June 2 (and without the post-June 1 designation) would result in a $3 million cap charge.

Cutting him as of June 2 (or with the post-June 1 designation) freezes the current year’s dead money at $1 million, with the final $2 million hitting the cap in the next league year.

The June 2 cap bump comes from the team’s inability to process the transaction financially until June 2.  So if the player with the $5 million signing bonus on a five-year deal has a $5 million base salary, the team carries the $6 million cap charge until June 2, at which time the $5 million base salary disappears.

The player still counts for $1 million in the current year, with the remaining $2 million in signing bonus allocation hitting the cap in the next league year.

As a result, teams like the Falcons have picked up $4.5 million in cap space via the processing of the departure of Clabo.  This gives them more cap space to sign the aforementioned Seymour.  Which gives us a chance to close this out with G.M. Thomas Dimitroff’s recent appearance on PFT Live, during which he addressed the reports that Seymour could be a Falcon.

It also gives the Falcons more wiggle room to extend quarterback Matt Ryan’s deal.  Which, coincidentally, is one of the other topics addressed by Dimitroff below.

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