Julio Jones trade: Why June 1 matters for any potential deal with Atlanta Falcons

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Perry: Why June 1 matters for potential Julio Jones trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Finally. It's Julio Jones Day, everyone. 

Or is it tomorrow?

Good question. 

Jones' name and today's date, June 1, have been lumped together for weeks now. If you're wondering why, you've come to the right place. 

The NFL has within its collective bargaining agreement a salary-cap provision where teams can absorb fewer dead cap dollars on their cap if they trade or cut a player after June 1. Instead of taking on the full dead-money load on a player's contract, for these post-June 1 transactions, dead money is spread over the current year and the subsequent year.

That means salary-cap relief for teams in need. That means salary-cap flexibility for teams looking to spend. 

That means Tuesday is a key day, even if the wheeling and dealing might not really start until tomorrow with June 1 officially in the rearview. (Which means, yeah, probably more accurate to recognize June 2 as Jones Day. Put the party hats away for a bit.)

Next Pats Podcast - Albert Breer: How Julio Jones would help Mac Jones develop with the Patriots | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

That wheeling and dealing could include a Jones trade. Had the Falcons dealt Jones before June 1, say at this year's NFL Draft, they would have taken on all $23.25 million in dead money that remained on his deal this year. 

Not ideal. 

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, he'll have just $7.75 million in dead money hit Atlanta's cap in 2021. The remaining $15.5 million wouldn't hit the Falcons' books until 2022.

Summer savings

Jones' 2021 cap hit if Falcons trade him before June 1

$23.25M

Jones' 2021 cap hit if Falcons trade him after June 1

$7.75M

Variation

Double

So, by waiting it out on a Jones trade, the Falcons can save themselves over $15 million in cap space for 2021 -- something they desperately need. They're so tight up against the cap at the moment that they need some salary-cap breathing room just to sign their draft class.

For a team potentially acquiring Jones, June 1 isn't all that significant a date other than it signifies that the Falcons will soon be willing to make a trade official. The Patriots, or whichever club deals for Jones, will be on the salary-cap hook for Jones' base salary of $15.3 million in 2021. If the Falcons eat some of Jones' money in a trade or if Jones alters his deal once he's arrived to his next city, that would alter his cap figure for 2021.

The Patriots don't have many players on their roster at the moment for whom June 1 is all that significant of a date, but here are a few names to consider thanks to how their deals are structured, courtesy of Over The Cap.

Devin McCourty -- who doesn't make much sense as a candidate to be moved thanks to his importance to the Patriots secondary -- has a contract that is put together in such a way that if he was dealt prior to June 1, without accounting for the top-51 rule, he'd save the team about $2.5 million in cap space in 2021. If dealt after June 1? Again, without accounting for the top-51 rule, the cap savings for the Patriots this year would bump up to about $9 million, per Over The Cap.

For N'Keal Harry, a name brought up as a possible trade chip this offseason, the Patriots would save next to nothing in cap space by dealing him ahead of June 1 as the dead money on his deal ($2.68 million) would all accelerate onto this year's cap. But if Harry was to be included in a package for Jones after June 1? Over the Cap has Harry's cap savings at $1.41 million for 2021, which is his base salary that would travel with him in a trade.

The only dead money for which the Patriots would be responsible on this year's cap would be the prorated portion of his signing bonus ($1.34 million). Another $1.34 million in dead money would count against New England's cap in 2022 if Harry was dealt after June 1.

Perry's Mailbag: What would it cost for Pats to land Julio Jones?

Pro Football Focus did a nice job of laying out a few other big-name players across the NFL for whom June 1 matters.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, if dealt prior to June 1, would've saved the Packers just $1.15 million on the cap. If dealt later, allowing the Packers to spread his dead-money hit over two years? The Packers would save more than $14.3 million more in 2021.

Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz -- a possible target for the reigning AFC East champion Bills? -- would save the Eagles about $3.5 million in cap space if dealt after June 1 as opposed to before. 

Minnesota pass-rusher Danielle Hunter would've saved the Vikings about $5 million in cap space this year if dealt prior to June 1. If he's dealt Wednesday instead? He'd save the team about $12 million this year -- a difference of $7 million in cap space for one season just by waiting for June 1 to come and go.

Transactions may not start flying across the league wire until tomorrow. But the arrival of June 1 is a good reminder to stay loose for that kind of action since teams will always be looking for the cap advantages they're provided after that all-important NFL date.