June 1.For diehard, 12-months-a-year football fans, that date needed no explanation.
That was the date when teams could release high-priced veterans while minimizing the immediate salary cap impact. For instance, for a player with three years left on a five-year deal that included a $10 million signing bonus, the remaining prorated amount of that bonus ($6 million; or $2 million for each season remaining) could be spread out over the current salary cap and the next season's cap rather than having the whole amount dumped onto that year's salary cap.
Tuesday, however, will come and go with nary a whimper. By opting out of their agreement with the players union, the teams ushered in an uncapped season. Thus, there's no reason for teams to dump salaries on Tuesday — which means there won't be any big names made available to teams like the Browns, who could use a veteran wide receiver to add an experienced threat to their passing game.
However, the June 1 date lost its magic long ago for numerous reasons, mainly that most teams have become so adept at managing their salary cap that they can afford to absorb a bad contract or two. Plus, another reason for June 1 cuts — the date of roster bonuses kicking in — disappeared when agents began making those bonuses due in March. Thus, those decisions already have been made.
That means the worst free-agent season since the current model of free agency debuted in 1993 isn't going to get a much-needed kick in the pants.
According to the free agent transactions provided by The Sports Xchange and reflected in Scout.com's Free Agent Database, only 51 unrestricted free agents have changed hands this year. Exactly double that number signed with a new team in the first three weeks of free agency in 2009 alone.
The Browns have been relatively busy in the free agent marketplace, signing QB Jake Delhomme, TE Ben Watson, and OL Tony Pashos, among others. They still seek a wide receiver, but pickings are slim when it comes to skilled veterans who could fit into an Eric Mangini locker room.