Post-June 1 Cut and Trade Candidates: Courtland Sutton, James Bradberry, Miles Sanders, and Others

The post-June 1 rule is a salary cap tactic NFL teams use to create space. With the date approaching, which notable veterans could be cut or traded?

Balancing the books is a never-ending cycle for NFL front offices, with hoops to jump through and important accounting dates sprinkled throughout the calendar year. One of those benchmark dates is June 1, which is right around the corner.

With the ability to save money now and into the future once June 1 comes and goes, it is a noteworthy date in the NFL world.

As a result, players may see themselves getting cut or even traded post-June 1, and there are some notable names who may be affected this time around.

June 1 Cut and Trade Candidates

James Bradberry, CB, Philadelphia Eagles

In 2022, James Bradberry was an All-Pro cornerback playing the best football of his career for the Philadelphia Eagles. 2023, however, was a much different story, as Bradberry’s play dipped dramatically on a very disappointing Eagles defense.

To address last season’s weak pass defense, the Eagles used their first two picks on cornerbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft — Quinyon Mitchell in the first round, and Cooper DeJean in the second.

Add in the fact that Bradberry has a $15.1 million dead cap hit for 2024, and the Eagles may opt to cut him post-June 1, which would lower that number to $4.3 million.

MORE: James Bradberry Absent from OTAs: Is a Post-June 1 Cut or Trade Coming?

The difference of over $10 million in relief for a veteran who did not perform to their customary standard may be in the works after looking at the Eagles’ recent draft strategy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, New England Patriots

The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league, and in the case of New England Patriots WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, the answer is not much.

Smith-Schuster was brought into New England to be a veteran presence in a struggling WR group. However, due to injuries and other ongoing QB situations, it has not produced as well as they would like.

The savings wouldn’t be astronomical, but by designating Smith-Schuster as a post-June 1 cut, it would leave behind $9.6 million in dead money in 2024 and an additional $2.6 million in 2025 while freeing up $1 million in cap space for next season. Compare that to incurring a $12.3 million dead money charge and losing $1.6 million in salary cap space to release Smith-Schuster before June 1.

It’s a new regime in Foxborough, and with a changing of the guard, one may wonder if Smith-Schuster’s time is running out, even for a little bit of savings.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

Unlike Bradberry and Smith-Schuster, Courtland Sutton is more of a post-June 1 trade candidate, as there should be some interest from around the league if the Denver Broncos do decide to part ways with the veteran receiver.

Moving on from Sutton in June defers $3.8 million in dead money to 2025, with the same amount staying on the books this season. If a move were made prior to June 1, the entire amount would be locked in for 2024.

With the brunt of former QB Russell Wilson’s deal still on the books in Denver, the Broncos may be eager to generate any additional cap space they can get right now, setting up an intriguing situation for Sutton in 2024.

Darren Waller, TE, New York Giants

The curious case of “will he or won’t he?” as it pertains to Darren Waller and his potential retirement is still very much in the air right now.

Waller hasn’t given the New York Giants a clear answer about whether he will play this season, and if the team decides to make the decision for him — at least as far as his time with the Giants goes — they have options.

Waller has no guaranteed money left on his contract, and the Giants would clear $11.6 million by making him a post-June 1 cut, providing help to a Giants organization that currently has the least cap space in the entire NFL.

There is a lot of uncertainty around Waller in 2024, but the Giants have the ability to wipe their hands clean of the situation if they would like.

Miles Sanders, RB, Carolina Panthers

While nothing is imminent at this time, any time you move up in the draft to take a potential replacement, it may sound the alarm in your head that you’re on borrowed time.

Such is the case for Miles Sanders and the Carolina Panthers as they traded up in the 2024 NFL Draft to take Jonathon Brooks out of Texas in the second round, setting the rookie up to be the team’s new RB of the future.

MORE: NFLPA Proposes Major Changes to NFL OTAs, Offseason Schedule

Sanders struggled in 2023, and if the Panthers decide to move on from the veteran RB, Carolina would take on a dead cap charge of just under $7.5 million for the 2024 season and a $2.95 million hit in 2025.

Sanders signed a four-year $25.4 million deal last offseason, so while that contract looks to be a mistake, the Panthers may decide it’s not worth hanging on to and could opt to pull the bandage off sooner rather than later.

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Lockett has been a great wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks for quite some time now. The quiet but dangerous pass catcher has been a chain mover for years. But is it time to move on from him now that he is a bit longer in the tooth?

At least financially, there may be a reason for the Seahawks to consider the option.

Trading or cutting Lockett with a post-June 1 designation would save Seattle $17 million with a roughly $9.9 million dead cap hit, setting up a situation where the Seahawks are able to save money while also beginning more of a youth movement around a team that appears to be getting younger.

Lockett is a strong locker room figure and someone his teammates look up to, so it wouldn’t be a universally accepted move. However, it may be a move worth exploring if the Seahawks are looking for salary cap relief with an eye for the future.

Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints

Back in 2021, the Saints gave Lattimore a five-year, $97 million extension. They have already reworked the contract three times to create additional cap space.

However, as we head into 2024, the latest restructuring of his deal may allow for Lattimore to be traded ahead of the season.

MORE: Will Saints Trade Marshon Lattimore? Explaining Trade Rumors, Contract

Instead of converting Lattimore’s 2024 salary into a signing bonus, the Saints turned his salary into an option bonus. The money still prorates on New Orleans’ cap. However, the option bonus will transfer to Lattimore’s next team if he’s traded. If the Saints move Lattimore in June or later, it could spread his dead money over the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

Lattimore’s guaranteed option bonus is worth $13.79 million and must be exercised before Week 1 of the 2024 regular season. If the Saints trade Lattimore after June 1 but before his option hits their salary cap, they would only take on between $10-$13 million in dead money.

Explaining How Pre- and Post-June 1 Cuts Work

June 1 is an important date in the NFL calendar because of the impact that cutting a player after that date changes as it relates to the salary cap.

Before June 1, any remaining prorated money on a player’s contract accelerates onto the cap in the year they are cut or traded. However, that changes after June 1.

If a player is released or traded after June 1, no further prorated money accelerates onto the cap. Instead, that money accelerates onto the following year’s cap.

For example, take a player with four years remaining on his deal and $2.5 million in prorated money in each of those years. If his team cuts him before June 1, his cap number in 2024 would be $10 million. Alternatively, if the team releases him on June 2, his cap number in 2024 would then be $2.5 million. The remaining $7.5 million impacts the 2025 salary cap.

It is a bookkeeping trick the NFL world has at their disposal, and while it isn’t used a ton across the league, there are moments when teams take advantage of the accounting hack every year.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles