The NFL has made an adjustment to its free agency calendar, moving up a key deadline from June to May 12, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
The date of June 1 had previously been important for a number of reasons, as I laid out last spring. For one, players released or traded after June 1 had their cap numbers spread across two years of their respective teams’ cap, rather than just one year, as I explained in detail in our glossary entry on the subject.
Additionally, free agents who remain unsigned heading into June 1 were no longer attached to draft pick compensation beginning in June, meaning teams could sign those players without worrying about potentially missing out on a compensatory draft pick the following year.
Going forward, the cutoff date will now be May 12 rather than June 1 for free agents no longer counting toward the compensatory pick formula. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported last week that the league was considering making this change because it’s a win-win proposition — unsigned players get the opportunity to find a new home a few weeks earlier, and teams are able to get those players involved in their offseason programs sooner.
However, it doesn’t sound as if teams will have the opportunity to release players and spread out their cap hits across multiple years in May, unless they specifically designate them as post-June 1 cuts. It appears clubs will still have to wait until June 1 to take advantage of that CBA quirk.