What’s the Big Deal about May 12?
In the NFL business year, May 12, 2015 begins a new dynamic to consider for clubs that might sign unrestricted free agents from another team. Teams such as the Packers that are averse to signing free agents because they would affect their compensatory picks in the 2016 draft will now view those players in a much different light.
Here is how Mike Florio of NBC Sports explains it.
“Years ago, June 1 had extreme significance on the NFL calendar. Teams looking to reduce the cap hit from cutting a veteran player would wait until June 1, resulting in half or more of the acceleration to hit the cap in the following league year.
In 2006, the NFL changed the rule, allowing teams to cut two players per year before June 1, with a June 1 designation. Few teams currently have cap issues; as a result, the entire notion of using the designation or waiting until June 1 to cut a player has become largely irrelevant.
June 1 had continued significance for another reason. After June 1, unrestricted free agents signed by other teams don’t count toward the compensatory draft-pick formula. Starting this year, that date will move from June 1 to May 12, according to the league office.
The NFL has been considering shifting the date from June 1 to May 1. With the draft still happening as of May 1, it makes sense to let the draft end and to let the dust settle before allowing free agents to sign without the move helping their former team or potentially hurting their new one.
The shift gives free agents more of an opportunity to participate in the off-season program. It also gives teams reason to wait on adding some of the currently available free agents, in order to avoid reducing their potential haul of compensatory picks”.
All Packers fans understand that Ted Thompson values draft picks more than air itself, so not having to relinquish draft choices to sign players who might be on his radar is indeed a big deal. The question of course; is there anyone out there who would interest the Packers’ General Manager?
The answer is maybe. Here is a partial list of those available players who could sign with Green Bay after May 12 without a compensatory draft pick ‘penalty’:
• Joe Barksdale, OT. A massive man at 6’ 5” and 326 lbs. – has starter experience, is relatively young and would qualify as a healthy backup to Brian Bulaga. May be the top FA yet unsigned.
• Corey Wooten Edge Rusher, Not a good fit for the defense in Minnesota, but a young (27) versatile DL at 6’ 6” and 270 lbs.
• Dwight Freeney, Edge Rusher. Who couldn’t use another highly accomplished pass rush specialist with a minimum contract for a Super Bowl push?
• Jermain Gresham, TE. A young (26 y/o) big body (6’ 5”, 260#) pass catcher who has had some success in the NFL.
Don’t expect any of these Packers signings to happen, but Ted has known to surprise in the past.
Former Packers Free Agents Have not Fared Well as of Late
Have you noticed how shrewd General Manager Ted Thompson’s moves now seem regarding his own big name players lost to free agency in recent years?
Greg Jennings was offered a contract worth a reportedly $8M per year by the Packers but sought more. Jennings left Green Bay in what was to become a messy divorce to sign with the hated Vikings. Jennings was cut a few weeks ago after only two years, but recently signed with the Dolphins but for a much lower price.
James Jones who signed with the Raiders just last year for much more than what the Packers were willing to pay was released by Oakland right after the draft.
Former center Scott Wells who left for bigger money in St. Louis was recently released by the Rams and labeled a ‘free agent bust’ in the local tabloids.
Even Dietrich-Smith has been a disappointment in Tampa (who isn’t) and is rumored to be on the bubble.
Does it make you wonder how long the tenure of Tramon Williams might last in Cleveland given the big money contract the 32 year old signed earlier this spring?——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .