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June 1 could result in mini-surge in free agency


Before 2006, every June 1 created a second wave of free agency, via salary-cap rules that allowed teams to spread the salary-cap hit for cutting a veteran over two league years. It was, at the time, a pretty big deal. After 2006, teams acquired the ability to cut players before June 1 with a June 1 designation, which pretty much destroyed post-June 1 free agency.

But fear not, NFL fans heading into the slowest news month of the year (unless someone gets accused of murder like last June). After 20 years under the current free-agency system, more and more teams are figuring out the value of waiting until after June 1 to pursue certain free agents.

For veteran free agents who became available on March 11, signing them after June 1 results in no impact on the formula used for determining compensatory draft picks the following year. That applies to both the players’ former team and his new team. The acquisitions don’t count as players lost by the former team, and they don’t count as players gained by the new team.

Last year, the Ravens worked the system to perfection, signing veteran Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith after June 1. He started 16 games last year.

This year, any players who became free agents on March 11 by the expiration of their prior contract fall into that same category. Some of the available names include defensive tackle Kevin Williams, defensive back Terrell Thomas, running back Ronnie Brown, tight end Jermichael Finley, and tackle Eric Winston.

Don’t be shocked if the Ravens, who still don’t have a clear plan at right tackle, give Winston a look-see.

Also, don’t be shocked if the long-awaited reunion between Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Rex Grossman finally happens. Grossman knows Shanahan’s system as well as anyone, and he can help teach it to Johnny Manziel/Football/Cleveland/Vegas/Whatever.

For players whose contracts were terminated (like receiver Santonio Holmes), the compensatory-pick formula won’t be an issue after June 1 because it never was an issue. The compensatory draft picks are determined only by gains and losses via veteran free agency.

So now you know your new thing for the day. And since there’s a chance you’ll forget it by next year at this time, it’s already on our list of things to write about on June 1, 2015. And it will be the top story that day.

Unless someone gets accused of murder like last June.