MAQB: Why June 1 Could Be a Significant Date In a Potential Julio Jones Deal

On June 1, cap hits for NFL teams change drastically. A Jones Trade could be more feasible for the Falcons after that date. Plus, who's tight on cap space, a Todd Gurley landing spot and more.
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Julio Jones is still a Falcon. For now …

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• You’ve heard about June 1 a lot—and in some cases, the date is treated as one in which a team can bail itself out of cap jail. And that’s true, but only to a certain degree, and that’s why I figured on this May 31 it’d be good to explain how this all works. And to do it, let’s say, for simplicity's sake, we have a player that signed a four-year, $40 million deal last year with a $20 million signing bonus and $5 million base salaries in each year. In this circumstance, the player would have a $10 million cap number each year, even though he got $25 million in Year 1, with $5 million of it accounting for the base salary, and $5 million accounting for the proration of the signing bonus. Now, let’s say the team that signed this player wanted to trade him this year, a year after he did the deal. If they do that in March, April or May, the $15 million left in bonus proration ($5 million for each year remaining on the deal) hits at once. If they wait until June 1? Then, this year’s proration ($5 million) hits this year’s cap, and what’s left in proration ($10 million) hits the 2022 cap. Got it? Now, if we apply this to Jones, we need to look at the annual bonus prorations left on his deal. Those are as follows …

2021: $7.75 million

2022: $7.75 million

2023: $7.75 million

So if the Falcons deal him today, the money hits their cap all at once—and they take $23.25 million in dead money on to their 2021 cap, which is actually more than the cap hit for keeping him on the roster ($23.05 million). But if they do it tomorrow? Then, $7.75 million in dead money sits on their cap for this year, and $15.5 million left over (the 2022 and ’23 prorations) hits the cap next year, and the Falcons move the $15.3 million he’s due in cash off this year’s cap, which would allow them the space to sign their draft picks and still have some breathing room left over. I know that’s a lot of math. But it’s the simplest way I could figure, to properly explain what all this June 1 business you get every year means.

• That, of course, begs the question—who else is hard against the salary cap? As of the league’s latest internal cap report, here are the league 10 cap-neediest teams.

  1. Falcons: $285,693
  2. Saints: $348,664
  3. Bears: $1.069 million
  4. Buccaneers: $1.476 million
  5. Titans: $3.903 million
  6. Raiders: $4.075 million
  7. Giants: $4.127 million
  8. Eagles: $4.266 million
  9. Texans: $5.221 million
  10. Vikings: $6.172 million

And there are eight more teams (Packers, Rams, Seahawks, Steelers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Ravens) less than $10 million under, meaning more than half the league is pretty close to the limit, which is a reality of post-pandemic economics in the NFL. These numbers, by the way, are moving targets. Some teams have signed their rookies, others haven’t, which means some of these teams still have some work to do.

• One such team is the Saints, and the key to how they’ll make their seemingly-perpetually-strapped situation work in 2021 is through their bumper crop of 2017 rookies. They already have Alvin Kamara on a new deal, and that leaves CB Marshon Lattimore, RT Ryan Ramczyk and S Marcus Williams as the key figures. The three are due $31.982 million in 2021, and each is getting the money in a lump sum (Lattimore and Ramczyk are on fifth-year options at $10.244 million and $11.064 million, respectively, and Williams is on a $10.612 million franchise tag). Extending each of them would allow for the team to manage some cap relief into each deal and give New Orleans the room to sign its rookies. Of course, moving any one of them via trade would be another option. But I do know that other teams that inquired on Lattimore and Ramczyk earlier in the offseason got shut down, which tells me a big push is coming to give those guys contracts.

• A couple weeks ago, you might’ve heard that Washington owner Dan Snyder and team president Jason Wright had embarked on a trip to see venues across America as they work on getting a new stadium financed and built (somewhere) in the greater D.C. area. Well, I was able to get their itinerary for that trip. Snyder, Wright & Co. visited Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena in Vegas, Staples Center and SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, and Chase Center in San Francisco. The idea was, well, to find ideas for a new place, and the hope is to match the opening of that new place with the 2027 expiration of the team’s lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Next up for the Capitol Stadium Crew is a trip to Europe to see stadiums over there.

• I like the Lions kicking tires on Todd Gurley—who’d be a low-cost addition matching the vision that Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes have for the team. It’s obvious where the team’s strength is going to be on offense, given the contractual (Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow) and draft (Penei Sewell) investment in the line. And so it makes sense to lean into that with some insurance for bell cow D’Andre Swift, which in turn should make life a lot easier on new Lion QB Jared Goff.

• Last week, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said he views a Fred Warner extension as a “matter of time”, and that underscores how the team’s structure will continue to evolve. Warner was one of the NFL’s best linebackers last year, and wouldn’t be out of line asking for $16 million (or so) per year. And next year, Nick Bosa’s eligible for a second contract, and could shoot for $30 million per year if he regains his rookie form. Add it up, and you’ll see why having a quarterback on a rookie contract will, in time, be a godsend for San Francisco, and also why uncovering role players in the draft with the picks they have left after dealing up for Trey Lance will be important.

• If you told me six months ago that Urban Meyer and Charlie Strong would be the dudes handing Chris Jericho foreign objects on Tony Khan’s wrestling show, I’d have thought you were out of your mind. But here we are.

• Seeing the Vikings using soft helmets didn’t stun me—I figured we’d get there eventually. Those have been around in high-profile 7-on-7 camps for a while now, and logically make sense as vehicles to cut down on unnecessary offseason concussions. As we said in the MMQB a couple weeks back, there were eight concussions during the offseason program in 2019, the last year there was a full one.

Great story here on Buccaneers rookie Joe Tryon using his rookie deal to pay for his sister Julia’s medical school, from my buddy Jenna Laine over at ESPN. Love stories like that, and this particular one is a guy making a true investment back into his family. Good work, Joe.

• As a PSA: We’ve got three full weeks left to the summer break, and after that I’ll be getting away too. Working now on finding some good guest columnists to fill that time, and we’ll keep you posted on that (and if you have ideas for me, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter @albertbreer or IG @albert_breer). 

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