The change in NFL accounting for the 2019 season is now official with June 1 officially in the books. For those not familiar with NFL salary cap accounting the league makes a distinction between the way they handle the salary cap charge for players released after June 1. For players released from multi year contracts all accelerated salary will now count towards the 2020 salary cap rather than 2019. In addition four teams used a June 1 designation on players this offseason and now those players will no longer count in full on their former team’s salary cap. Here is a quick look at the players and the cap space gained by the teams they used to play for.
Matt Kalil, Carolina Panthers– Kalil was the Panthers prized free agent acquisition in 2017, signing what was considered a widely questionable five year, $55.5 million contract. The contract helped solidify that the market for left tackles was such that pretty much anyone with some talent and name recognition was going to receive a contract that averaged at least $11 million a year at the position. Kalil, who was a Pro Bowler as a rookie, had trended down in his years in Minnesota and missed almost all of the 2016 season after having surgery on his hip. The contract structure was a goldmine for Kalil with the Panthers putting in the initial contract $22 million in prorated bonuses along with $25 million in guarantees. Normally that structure would likely guarantee a third year due to the huge dead money charge associated with that figure which is why the Panthers used the June 1 cut. Kalil only played in 16 games over his two years with the Panthers and will leave the Panthers with $4.9 million in dead money this year and $9.8 million in 2020. Kalil also had a $1 million injury guarantee but I do not believe that will count on the cap (if it does they will receive a credit next year for it). The $9.8 million is bigger than the entire dead money thus far in 2019 for 19 teams, so it’s a big number for Carolina on the books next year. The Panthers will gain $7.25 million in cap room. Kalil is currently a member of the Texans on a one year, $7.5 million contract which is almost as much as he was scheduled to earn from the Panthers this year.
Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs– Berry’s contract will likely go down as one of the big disasters of the modern era of football due to circumstance and more so questionable decision making. The Chiefs had an option to extend Berry after the 2015 season. Berry, who came off a great season and had been an elite safety, was looking for a big contract that would have paid him more than Earl Thomas’ $10 million per season. Neither side could agree on a number so Berry played the year on a $10.8 million franchise tag. In the interim what had been a stagnant market at safety grew when Tryann Mathieu of the Cardinals signed a surprising $12.5 million per year contract. That immediately jumped Berry’s asking price. Logic would dictate that if whatever Berry was looking for in 2016 was too much that moving to a number bigger than $12.5 million would be way too much as well and that the team should just tag him again at $12.96 million in 2016. Things seemed to be headed that way until a massive offer came down from the Chiefs that saw Berry receive a contract that would average $13 million a season with an effective guarantee of $32.95 million, which included a $20 million signing bonus and first year salary of $21 million, about $8 million higher than the tag number. All things considered none of that made sense when the two sides were apparently so far apart the year before. Things went from bad to worse when Berry was injured for almost all of the last two years, only playing in three games during his new contract. The Chiefs will carry $6.95 million in dead money for Berry this year, which includes a cash salary of $2.95 million. He will count for $8 million on the 2020 salary cap. The Chiefs will pick up $9.55 million in cap space this year now that the cut is official. Berry is still a free agent.
Ryan Schraeder, Atlanta Falcons- Schraeder had been a pretty good player for Atlanta which helped lead to a five year, $31.5 million contract extension in 2016. That contract was top five money for a right tackle at the time. The writing was on the wall for his release last year when he lost his starting job during the season and there was little way to justify bringing him back at a $7.75 million cap figure. Of all the June 1 cuts this one makes the most sense for the team to use. The Falcons had the worst salary cap situation in 2019 with less than $700,000 in cap room and will pick up a much needed $6.45 million in cap room with the cut, which gives them the breathing room to function in 2019. Had they used a regular cut on him they would have only gained $3.95 million which is borderline for what you need when the regular season hits. Schraeder will count for $1.3 million on the Falcons salary cap this year and $2.5 million next season. He remains a free agent in 2019.
Cody Parkey, Bears- Parkey had signed a four year, $15 million contract with the Bears in 2018 and only lasted one season with the double doink game in the playoffs sealing his fate. I have conflicting numbers on Parkey’s dead money for this season and the team will save anywhere from $0 to $2 million. Right now I will go with the worst case, which has been the most widely reported number, of no savings. Parkey will count for $1.125 million in cap room next season. Of all the post June 1 cuts this one made the least financial sense since the loss was negligible so perhaps the Bears anticipated a worse cap scenario than what they ended up with. Parkey is still searching for a job.
It is also worth noting that if a new CBA is not agreed to by the start of the 2020 league year there will be no June 1 designation available to teams next season. Quite frankly if the NFL maintains the current system of extreme carryovers and lack of cap spending in the CBA there really is no reason for the June 1 rule to exist other than the fact that it has always been there. So there is a chance that this is the last time we talk about the June 1 cut for awhile.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.