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NFL.com article about June 1


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I don't know if this has already been posted, but I saw some interesting tid-bits in this article.

Spring Cleaning Arrived Early In NFL

By Pat Kirwan

NFL.com Columnist

May 22, 2004

Business in the NFL is cyclical. May and June have unique projects on the table.

The June 1 cuts in the mid-1990s were a significant event. Typically, there would be upward of 30 to 40 experienced veterans let go in a "spring cleaning" sweep. Many teams were up against the salary cap and needed the space to sign their rookies and have some emergency space to get through the season.

Times have changed. Over the past few years, fewer and fewer players are let go who can actually help another team. As one pro personnel director said, "This year, there probably will not be eight guys who we have any interest in."

Why, you might ask? There are four reasons the list has shrunk.

First, teams do a much better job of managing the salary cap. As of May 20, the average cap space on a league level is $4.8 million. That is a strong number, and it indicates most teams have the cap under control. Only three teams have under $1 million of cap space, and they will be using June 1 to get their books in order.

Secondly, there are many player contracts nowadays with "roster bonus" written into them that are due in March or April. Teams that didn't want to pay those bonuses let their veterans go months ago.

Thirdly, more teams with cap space to spare elect to cut players before June 1 in order to save additional cap space for 2005. Teams that wait until June 1 are putting off a large portion of cap debt until 2005.

For example, Texans linebacker Charlie Clemons, who had three years remaining on his contract, was scheduled to be released in June but Houston had the cap space to do it now. (Instead of paying one year's amortization in 2004 and two in 2005, Houston decided it could afford to pay all three in 2004.)

Finally, a number of veteran players have witnessed the number of players on the street who can't find the money they thought would be out there, and are willing to renegotiate down to stay under contract. When players like Antowain Smith, Marvin Jones, Chad Bratzke and Tony Brackens still are unemployed, keeping your job at a reduced rate looks like a good idea.

As for the three teams with under $1 million of space--Denver, St. Louis and Pittsburgh--they are days away from being in good shape again. Pittsburgh is expected to release OLB Jason Gildon and create $3.5 million of cap space. St. Louis is expected to say goodbye to QB Kurt Warner and his $4.75 million salary will be recouped. Denver will find $1.8 million when Daryl Gardener is expected to be shown the door.

Gildon should see some decent action if he hits the streets. He has 60 sacks in the past six years and 27 in the past three years. Gardener is expected to go to Cincinnati, and Warner is reportedly talking to a number of teams.

The next team in a salary-cap pinch is San Francisco. The 49ers have barely over $1 million of space, but they need all of that and some more for their draft picks and it looks like a veteran QB has to be signed. So defensive back Zack Bronson will save them $1.75 million when his contract is terminated.

Back in 2001, Bronson was healthy for all 16 games and had seven interceptions. Staying healthy has been an issue since then, but a few teams have expressed interest in him to me.

The others who are expected to soon be free include Vinny Testaverde (who is reportedly on his way to the Cowboys), Packers defensive end Joe Johnson (who has medical questions) and possibly Titans running back Eddie George.

The popular opinion has been George would restructure his contract and stay with the Titans, much like Jerome Bettis did with the Steelers. But two front-office people told me if that were true, it would have been done by now. They are expecting him to be free and have been studying him closely to see how much he has left in his tank. Personally, I hope he stays with the Titans. He is the heart and soul of that franchise

I wonder if Eddie George will become a Raider?

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Eddie, gone? No longer with the Titans? Ah, man. I thought I'd never see the day. I could see him with the Eagles tho. Lost their best running back and they could use the veteran leadership to help keep TO undercontrol and help finally get over the hump of the championship game. Tho they aren't ever gonna get there while Gibbs is coaching, it wouldn't hurt them to sign Geroge if he was cut. I'm shocked. I didn't believe in a million years Eddie wouldn't finish his career with the Titans. That's the way it should be, retire a Titan. That's the NFL for ya...:(

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I'm surprised that Eddie stayed as long as he did with the Titans. He hasn't been the same player since he appeared on Madden 2001. He probably wants to stay there, but doesn't want to swallow his pride and take a pay cut. He would definately be a good part time back like Renegade said.

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Im with renegade.

i will always see Eddie George, Steve McNair, and Jeff Fischer as the same team.

Those guys took the Oilers/Titans through the tough times and proved their staying power through the last few years.

I respect the Titans, I call them my second favorite team, and its all because of the three men listed above.

Stay in Tenn Eddie.

Hail Skins.

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