Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Once upon a time June 1 was a rather significant date on the NFL calendar, a trigger to release costly veterans who had outlived their usefulness.
The onset of June is still important these days but now it's more of a second tier of free agency where smart teams can spend a few extra bucks without the anchor of compensatory draft picks figured in.
At the end of the day June 1 on the NFL calendar has always been about accounting. When a player is removed from a team's roster prior to June all his bonus money accelerates into this year's salary cap. After June 1 the NFL changes the way things work, making only the current year's expense as dead money on the cap with the balance ticketed for the next year.
The reason June 1 is no longer a clearing house for releasing players, though, is because the league now allows each team to designate up to two players per year as a June 1 cut any time prior to the date itself, something which enables veteran players bound for the unemployment line a better opportunity to hit the market at a time when organizations are flush with money and willing to spend it.
For instance, cap-strapped Dallas released big money wide receiver Miles Austin back on March 12 but designated him as a post-June 1 release. He was owed $7,855,600 by the Cowboys, $2,749,400 of which was allocated toward the 2014 cap and the other $5,106,200 earmarked toward the Cowboys' 2015 cap. In turn, Austin found a new home in Cleveland on May 15.
You still may see the rare big money cut on June 1 from teams in salary-cap hell but as evidenced from the dozens and dozens of rookie signings that have already taken place, the current collective bargaining agreement has essentially forced teams to budget better and have their plans in place far before the summer months roll around.
On the other side of the coin, a few big name veterans remain on the free agent market, and the turning of the calendar will make it a bit easier for teams to take chances on those aging former stars who may still have something left in the tank.
That's good news for five-time All-Pro under tackle Kevin Williams, formerly of the Vikings, and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, the ex- Falcons star, who headline this year's secondary market.
Others like former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, tight end injury-risks Jermichael Finley and Dustin Keller, as well as Samuel's former running mate, Dunta Robinson, and ex-Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph are also still available.
We're told the draft is seven rounds long every year but from a pure numbers standpoint, understand it's an eight-round affair due to compensatory picks, which are handed out based on the value of free agents signed compared to those lost in the prior campaign.
Those who went heavily in the free-agent market in 2014 understand there will be no compensatory selections coming their way come draft time next year.
For teams that value draft picks above all else, extra compensatory slots are a bigger deal than most realize and the fact that post-June 1 signings aren't figured into the NFL's formula when devising added picks, makes signing players still on the market a little more palatable.
So, an organization with a little cap space which believes it's a piece or two away from a serious Super Bowl run could look far more seriously at an added expense in June.