In a crucial turn of events for several NFL teams, the highly anticipated June 1 deadline has arrived, signaling the final day that organizations will bear the brunt of salary cap repercussions when releasing players, at least in terms of the 2023 season.
From June 2nd onward, the accounting method for cap releases undergoes a change: all future prorated money accelerates into the following year, 2024, instead of affecting the team’s cap for the current season.
As a result, six teams are set to gain significant salary cap space, providing them with much-needed flexibility for roster management and potential signings.
Jason Fitzgerald, a well-respected salary cap analyst at Over The Cap, sheds light on the teams benefiting from this cap relief.
– Leading the pack is the Miami Dolphins, who will add a staggering $13.6 million to their cap room following the release of cornerback Byron Jones.
Prior to this move, the Dolphins were estimated to have a meager $1.3 million in cap space, posing a severe challenge to their operational capabilities for the upcoming season.
Jones, who joined the Dolphins as a free agent in 2020, signed a lucrative five-year, $82.5 million contract. However, his stint with the team was marred by injuries, causing him to miss the entirety of the 2022 season.
– The Cleveland Browns also stand to benefit greatly, acquiring $10.915 million in cap space as a result of releasing John Johnson and Jadeveon Clowney.
Johnson, who joined the team in 2021 on a three-year, $33.75 million contract, contributed the majority of the savings, with the Browns saving $9.75 million on the salary cap.
While the numbers may not be astronomical, they illustrate the consequences of overprorating a contract for a player who fails to fulfill the guaranteed years. As for Clowney, his release will generate a modest $1.165 million in cap relief.
– The Dallas Cowboys are set to gain $10.9 million in salary cap space after parting ways with running back Ezekiel Elliott.
This move comes as no surprise, as Elliott’s contract extension in 2019 hinted at a potential June 1 release.
The Cowboys offered Elliott a contract with around $38 million in new guarantees, prompted by his threat to hold out after his third season in the NFL. Although Elliott delivered one more Pro Bowl-worthy season, his subsequent three years were marked by underwhelming performances at a high cost.
– The Washington Commanders will gain $8.37 million in salary cap relief following the release of Chase Roullier.
Washington deliberately waited until May to execute Roullier’s release, likely aiming to ensure his ability to pass a physical examination. Roullier, who signed a four-year, $40.5 million extension with the team in 2020, endured a career plagued by injuries, playing a mere 10 games across the 2021 and 2022 seasons, which constituted the initial two years of his extension.
– The Arizona Cardinals will generate $4.215 million in cap relief through the releases of JJ Watt and Rodney Hudson.
The Cardinals’ strategy over the past few years involved acquiring established players whose prime years were behind them, mirroring the successful strategy employed by the New York Jets in 1993-1994. However, Watt’s tenure spanned just 23 games over two years, while Hudson played in only 16 games.
– The Denver Broncos will free up $3.75 million in salary cap space after parting ways with kicker Brandon McManus.
Although McManus was recently released, the decision to employ the June 1 designation likely stemmed from the team’s proximity to the deadline.
McManus’ cap number will decrease from $4.98 million to $1.23125 million for both the 2023 and 2024 seasons. Prior to the move, the Broncos possessed approximately $7 million in cap room.
As June 2nd approaches, these six NFL teams are primed to gain substantial salary cap relief by leveraging the modified accounting methods for cap releases.