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The new league year begins at 4:00 p.m. ET; here’s what it means

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Mike Florio and Chris Simms look at Dalvin Cook's uncertain future with the Vikings and assess how it's harder for teams to justify paying RBs big money when cheaper options come out of the draft.

Free agency began, as a practical matter, on Monday at noon ET. It technically starts today at 4:00 p.m. ET.

That’s when the 2023 league year begins. It’s when the new contracts that agents have negotiated with new teams can be signed. It’s when trades can be finalized. Before those transactions become official, either side can back out, without consequence.

It’s also the moment at which teams must be in compliance with the new salary cap, based on the 51 highest-paid players on the team. It could prompt some teams to cut players or restructure contracts as 4:00 p.m. ET approaches.

And it will result in a second wave of free agency, as players who have contracts with high cap numbers or significant payments that become due or guaranteed in the early days of the league year are cut.

It’s always smart for agents to include early triggers in as many years of their clients’ contracts as possible. Whether it’s a roster bonus or a salary guarantee or something else, these devices force the team to make a decision early, allowing the player to hit the market at a time when budgets haven’t been exhausted.

That’s why some teams will hold onto some of their allocated cash, because players who currently aren’t available land on the market. Some will be expected. Some won’t be.

It will all play out today and through the rest of the week.