When it comes to understanding the NFL salary cap, the post-June 1 rules are often one of the more misunderstood. Let’s look at what the NFL post-June 1 rules are, what the post-June 1 designation means, why it is important for NFL teams, and how it all works in practice.
NFL Post-June 1 Cut and Designation
The simplest explanation of the post-June 1 rule is that any player released or traded after June 1 has his cap number spread between the current NFL season and the next one.
For example, if a player has three years remaining on his contract and his prorated money is worth $2.5 million a year, if he were released or traded before or on June 1, 2023, his dead money number for the 2023 NFL season would be three times $2.5 million — $7.5 million in total. However, if that player were released or traded on June 2 or later, his dead money would be $2.5 million in 2023, and the remaining $5 million would be dead money on the 2024 salary cap.
The reason for this is to help NFL teams get out of cumbersome contracts that would be too costly to rid themselves of and take all of the dead money in the current year. However, putting the date in June restricts teams from utilizing that cap space when signing premium free agents in March.
While the post-June 1 designation is extremely useful, it does have a major drawback for NFL teams and, in some cases, players. The drawback for teams is if a player is due a roster bonus or has money set to become guaranteed before June 1.
Equally, for a player, being stuck on a team you know will cut you, and missing out on the main free agency waves can be very costly. In both of those situations, waiting for June 1 to pass before releasing a player is not ideal.
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Therefore, the NFL has a rule allowing teams to designate two players per year as post-June 1 cuts but actually release them before that date. They somewhat uncreatively called it “the post-June 1 designation.”
When a player is cut with a post-June 1 designation, they immediately become a free agent at the start of the new league year. That is one of two downsides to using the post-June 1 designation for NFL teams.
Firstly, they cannot use the designation to be cap compliant when the new league year begins. Each team must be under the salary cap when the league year begins at 4 p.m., and post-June 1 cuts are not effective until that deadline passes.
Secondly, a player who is designated as a post-June 1 release will carry his full salary number for the upcoming season until June 2. So using our previous example, if given a player with $7.5 million in remaining prorated money a post-June 1 designation, he will still count for $7.5 million in dead money from March to June 1. His 2023 cap number will then drop from $7.5 million to $2.5 million.