By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Friday, June 1 marks a key date on the NFL’s offseason calendar, as the Patriots and the rest of the league will have decided for the final time whether to cut or trade certain players prior to that date.
As the NFL explains, players who are cut, waived, or traded on or after June 2 would have any remaining bonuses on the cap pushed to their team’s cap for 2019. Anyone cut or traded before that date would have their remaining bonuses added to the cap for 2018. However, teams can cut or trade a player as soon as March and simply designate him as a post-June 1 cut, which would both save the team space for 2018 and allow the player to explore free agency.
So if the Patriots had an opportunity to cut someone loose for these reasons, they probably would’ve done it already. That’s why it appears as if no one on the roster is in any imminent danger based on the rule.
You may have thought tight end Dwayne Allen could’ve been a candidate. He’ll earn a $4.5 million base salary and $500,000 bonus if he makes the Patriots’ 53-man roster in 2018 totaling $5 million against the cap. If the Pats cut or traded him, he’d cost them nothing in 2018 or any future years. He’s already earned the guaranteed portion of his contract.
But in actuality, the Patriots have until the final 53-man deadline on Sept. 1 to make a decision on Allen. They will save all $5 million whether they cut Allen on Tuesday or at the end of training camp. The same applies for other returning players who could be on the bubble battling for a roster spot, like running back Mike Gillislee.
In theory, the Patriots could save a little bit if they parted ways with players nearing the end of their rookie contracts, like Vincent Valentine or Cyrus Jones. But if the team intended to move on from those players with the post-June 1 designation, it’s highly likely it would’ve happened already.
The reason you almost never hear about this rule with the Patriots is that it’s essentially designed to give cap relief to teams that got themselves into trouble. As Bill Belichick famously said, the salary cap can be maneuvered in a number of different ways, and the June 1/2 rules are essentially a way of bailing out teams who need immediate breathing room. It’s why you heard about it when the Dolphins cut Ndamukong Suh in March, just three years into a six-year, $114 million deal. He was designated a post-June 1 cut, which saved the Dolphins $17 million in space for 2018 and allowed them to go on their spending spree that included ex-Patriots receiver Danny Amendola.
Belichick and the Patriots rarely back themselves into that kind of corner. Maybe – maybe – you’ll hear about June 1 with Stephon Gilmore down the road, but he also might be the Patriots’ best defensive player entering 2018. So that also remains unlikely with him, certainly not imminent.
The June 1 rules are valuable for teams when it comes to maneuvering around the cap. But most of the time, the Patriots need no such help. That’s why you shouldn’t expect any surprise trades or cuts before Friday.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.