June 1: All Fizzle, No Sizzle

Fans used to look forward to this date on the calendar but there won't be any big names released on Tuesday. Plus, we tell you one huge reason why the Packers have bowed out of free agency altogether this year.

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 Packers, who could use a veteran outside linebacker to at least provide depth.

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 to Packer Report by The Sports Xchange, 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 Packers, of course, haven't signed a free agent. Don't expect that to change now. That's because the Packers would lose out on gaining a valuable compensatory draft pick after losing Aaron Kampman to Jacksonville.

Based on salary (four years, $26 million, including $11 million guaranteed) and possible production, the Packers might bag a third-round compensatory pick for losing Kampman. But if they sign a true unrestricted free agent, the Packers would not get a compensatory pick because the number of lost free agents (one) would equal the number of signed free agents (one).

That rule does not apply to a "street" free agent like Thomas, who was released and was not made available due to an expired contract. Unfortunately for the Packers, there aren't many good "street" free agents available, and there won't be any quality players added to that list on Tuesday.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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