Cuts on June 1st?
By Patriots Insider Staff
While June 1st is traditionally the day teams part ways with players whose salary isn't commensurate with their production, this June 1st figures to be different.
According to a number of estimates out there, the Patriots are approximately $500,000 under the salary cap for 2005. While that's not enough room to sign the rookie draft class, it's not something that requires immediate attention on June 1st.
The team has a number of players with relatively large cap numbers, but most of the major cap charges have been addressed already. Ty Law's $12 million plus has been lopped off the books so that only approximately $3 million of it remains. Tom Brady restructured his deal reducing his $10 million cap charge. Corey Dillon signed an extension, which is cap friendly.
The only remaining issues to address are the contract status of Adam Vinatieri who's franchise tag counts approximately $2.5 million against the cap, and some of the Restricted Free Agents who have one-year tenders or deals (David Givens, Jarvis Green, Tom Ashworth, Stephen Neal), and the possible extension of some veterans on defense.
The team would love to reduce veteran contracts, but the question is at what cost? Will restructuring a Willie McGinest's contract save the team much if anything? According to NFLPA documents, McGinest and Mike Vrabel are the two highest cap charges on defense. McGinest's contract runs through 2006 and he's already on record about hoping that the team will extend it. Vrabel's deal runs through 2007.
It's not likely the team will make any moves just to free up money because of the date. According to a team spokesman, no announcements of roster moves are planned at this time. Which means, McGinest and Vrabel should be safe, for now.
Other names with big cap numbers Richard Seymour has two years left on his deal, but he's carrying close to $4 million (including signing bonus) of cap charge. While he's signed through 2006, there's no way the team would consider cutting their best defensive lineman to save a few million.
If the team does release any players, it's likely that they will be less prominent ones. The types of guys who may not put a big dent in the cap, but aren't likely to make the team in the fall.
The rest of the league appears to have approached the June 1st day in a similar fashion to the Patriots. The Cardinals and Browns cleared house early so they could use some of their existing cap space in to get players cap charges off their books. Some big names that had hoped to resign with their teams have either already been released, or restructured their deals. Those who remain out there are a select few who for one reason or another made it to June 1st because teams can spread their cost over an additional season.
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