We have officially hit June 1, 2020 which means the salary cap rules for releasing players are about to change. Starting June 2 any player whose multiyear contract is terminated or traded will only count the prorated portion of this years signing bonus on the salary cap with all remaining bonus prorations moving into 2021. Four teams have already made use of this change using the post June 1 designation during the offseason and will finally realize the salary cap benefit of the change tomorrow after months of carrying the players full salaries on the cap despite their release.
The Rams saga will Todd Gurley more or less comes to a close at least from a cap perspective as his massive $17.25 million cap charge will reduce to $11.75 million, a savings of $5.5 million. The Rams have an estimated $600,000 in cap room so this will at least give them the room to sign their rookies. They will likely need to make some minor changes to some other contracts as the season draws closer to function. Gurley will count for $8.4 million against the 2021 salary cap but the Rams should get a credit of $2.5 million in 2021 for Gurley’s earnings with the Falcons which will offset some of the money he is owed by the Rams.
The Jets will pick up $11 million in cap room with the release of Trumaine Johnson becoming official. Johnson had counted at $15 million on the Jets cap and will now count for $4 million this season and $8 million next year. The move should bump the Jets to around $25 million in cap room for 2020 which certainly gives them the space for an extension for Jamal Adams or to sign a player like Jadeveon Clowney. It would also give them the flexibility to take on an in-season trade if the season goes well from the start. Johnson is still a free agent.
The Falcons will pick up $10.75 million after the release of Desmond Trufant. Trufant was taking up $15.15 million in cap space and will now count for $4.4 million this season and will count for $5.8 million in cap space in 2021. The Falcons were in desperate need of cap room as we estimated them at only $1 million in cap room. This gives them the cap space needed to sign their rookie class and likely function during the year. Trufant is a member of the Lions.
The Bears dropped Trey Burton despite a $4 million salary guarantee on a $6.8 million salary but a glut of tight ends made him expendable. Burton had counted at $8.55 million but the team will only pick up $2.8 million in cap space since his dead money, even with the June 1, is $5.75 million. The Bears will have a $1.75 million cap charge next season for Burton but should receive a $910,000 credit if Burton makes the Colts this season. The Bears will now have around $11 million in cap room in 2020 which should be enough for them to function during the season.
There should also be two other teams that gain cap room in the coming days, perhaps as early as June 2. The Panthers and Cowboys both had players announce retirements in the offseason but neither was made official with the league. My assumption at the time was that they wanted to use the June 1 but to use that for a retirement requires actually carrying the player until June 2. In interviews I believe the Cowboys admitted that this was the plan as well.
Travis Frederick currently counts for $11.975 million on the Cowboys salary cap and would have counted for $11.04 million in dead money had they officially retired him back in March. By waiting the Cowboys only need to account for $4.975 million in dead money this year, opening up $7 million in cap room to bring them to around $12 million for the season. So waiting was clearly the right move for them as they needed some extra cap space. Frederick’s charge next year will be $6.065 million.
Luke Kuechly announced his retirement back in January and has been charged at $15.51 million against the Panthers cap. His dead money would have been $11.84 million had his retirement immediately been processed but instead he will count for $4.71 million in 2020 and $7.13 million in 2021. The $10.8 million in savings will give the cap strapped Panthers the room they need this year moving them from around to $3.3 million in cap room to $13.5 million in cap room in 2020.
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.