If you haven’t heard yet, 2020 will be the final year of the NFL’s ten-year CBA agreement. Sounds like no big deal, right? Wrong… because in what is called the “Final League Year”, there are several quirky rule changes, one in particular that will affect the Falcons.
Unless the NFL and NFLPA agree to a new CBA quickly, there will be no Post-June 1st cuts in 2020. Typically, franchises can designate up to two players each offseason Post-June 1st cuts, which allows the team to move half of a player’s dead cap to the next year. Essentially, an organization can get out of a bad contract easier by making use of this rule because only half of a player’s dead money will count against the current year’s cap, with the rest counting the following year. It’s a temporary solution, but for teams that are cash strapped — like the Falcons will be this offseason — it can be an incredibly useful tool.
Atlanta has a few players that would have been ideal candidates for Post-June 1st cuts. Guard James Carpenter is one of them. He’s scheduled to have a cap hit over $5 million in 2020 with a dead cap figure of $4.125 million. The Falcons could still save just over $1 million by releasing him, but if Post-June 1st cuts were allowed, they would save over $3 million. Because of that, Atlanta might feel better off rolling the dice and hoping Carpenter can have a bounce-back campaign — at the very least — offering quality depth at a position of need.
The Falcons face the same situation with running back Devonta Freeman. The two-time Pro-Bowler has become a fan favorite over his time in Atlanta, but the injuries have racked up, as he’s barely eclipsed 1,500 yards over the last three seasons combined. Not ideal when considering he’s paid like a top-five running back in the league. The Falcons need to get fresh legs at the position and would desperately like to get out from under his $9.5 million cap hit for 2020, but without a new CBA, that doesn’t seem likely.
Freeman has a dead cap figure of $6 million next season, so the Falcons could still save some money by moving on. However, given he is only 27 and still has something in the tank, flushing $6 million down the drain would be a tough pill for management to swallow, especially since they are the ones that handed him the contract. If that number were to be cut in half, and the Falcons were able to save $6.5 million by designating Freeman a Post-June-1st cut, the front office would be infinitely more inclined to release him.
As of now, teams should operate under the assumption that there will be no Post-June-1st cuts. There is no sign that a new CBA deal is close, and this is one of several rules that will be different in the “Final League Year”. Other quirks include The 30 Percent Rule and changes to the way incentive structures count against the cap. To read more about those, click here.