Some high-dollar veterans looking at pink slips
ATLANTA (CNNSI.com) -- June 1 is the deadline for a team to submit a contract offer to its unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season -- if the player is not signed by another club by July 15. It's also the deadline for teams to send a contract to their unsigned restricted free agents or to extend a qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.
In a nutshell: Several high-dollar players will receive pink slips Friday. In an attempt to bolster their roster, teams will cut pricey veterans to free up money for draft choices and free-agent players and give themselves room under the salary cap.
"[June 1] is not as big a focal point any more because of the March 1 situation where you've got to get under the cap," Tennessee Titans president Jeff Diamond said. "So, a lot of those releases are taking place early in the offseason rather than late.
"And I think a lot more teams are taking the position that we'll take our lumps on the cap acceleration this year instead of delaying it into the future. Sometimes you have no choice. But, overall, I think June 1 is becoming less important date on the calendar."
However, Buffalo Bills general manager Ton Donahoe disagrees.
"I still think it's significant because when you look at the cap numbers around the league right now, there may only be 10 teams that have the room to sign their draft choices. So, people are going to have to find ways to create the room. It's not as rich a second-tier free agent market as it was a couple years ago, because teams are taking their lumps earlier now."
Among the high-profile players expected to be released are San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, Detroit Lions WR Herman Moore and Washington cornerback (and Cincinnati Reds outfielder) Deion Sanders.
Moore skipped the opening of the Lions' second minicamp Wednesday. First-year head coach Marty Mornhinweg said the situation with Moore would play itself out as June 1 approached.
The Seattle Seahawks are one of those teams that made roster adjustments in March.
"We've done all our work," general manager and head coach Mike Holgren said. "A lot of guys have those roster bonuses that you have to deal with in March. In our situation we didn't have to sweat to get under the cap in March, but a lot of those contracts were done before we got there.
"I'm not a big fan of roster bonuses," he said, "because they force your hand. It takes away from the June 1 date. That day was more important before this cap management style started being the way to do it. We did a lot of those things in March. I wanted to get all that stuff done early so I could see how much money I had to spend in free agency.
June 15 is the deadline for teams to withdraw their original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting tender of 110 percent of previous year's salary. The signing period ends at 4 p.m. EDT on July 22 for unrestricted free agents who received an offer June 1.