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June 1st is an important day in the NFL calendar. After June 1st is when NFL teams can spread out salary cap hits over two years instead of taking it all in the current year for players who are released or traded.
While the NFL has added a “post-June 1st designation,” allowing teams to release players early, June 1st still could lead to some fireworks in the league.
A few notable players were deemed to be cut after June 1st this season including Kyle Rudolph, Alshon Jeffery, and Malik Jackson, already added to the Cleveland Browns roster. Other moves, like Drew Brees retiring, will also take place after the first of June in order to save their teams some money.
Despite those moves already being off the board, there are still quite a few moves that could take place in the next coming days. Many of those moves could have an impact on the Browns, even if they are not involved in the actual trade.
Here are a few names that have been mentioned as possible June trade candidates:
Aaron Rodgers – The biggest name and biggest impact on the market is Rodgers whose relationship with Green Bay has gone downhill over the past year-plus. If he is dealt, it seems like he will be headed to the AFC with Denver and Las Vegas high on the list of potential teams to acquire him. Both play the Browns this season. From a cap perspective, a trade was almost impossible for the Packers before June 1st.
Julio Jones – Jones is older with injury concern but could also be one of the top five receivers in the game. While the Browns are not likely to acquire him, despite speculation, Jones could be headed to Baltimore or Tennesse giving the Browns more to deal with on their way to an AFC North title and/or AFC Championship. Dealing Jones will allow the Falcons to sign their draft class with the money saved from a post-June 1st trade.
Zach Ertz – The Eagles are in rebuild mode and Ertz is going into the final year of his contract. Waiting until after June 1st will save the Eagles an extra $3.5 million in salary-cap space this year while also allows them to wait out the best offer for their tight end. Ertz may not be a game-changer at this point in his career but he could be a very good piece for some teams. The Browns have historically struggled to cover tight ends. The additions at safety and linebacker hopefully help that but Ertz on a team like the Bills would be concerning.
Danielle Hunter – Rumored to be unhappy with his contract early this offseason, the Vikings would have had to eaten $12 million in dead cap to trade him previously. Now, that drops to $5 million this year which could make a trade easier to swallow if a team is willing to give up what it would take to acquire the talented pass rusher who is only 26 years old. The Browns have connections to the Vikings but seem unlikely to add another edge player at this point. Any team adding Hunter in the AFC would be problematic for the Browns.
Jordan Hicks – Not the biggest name but after drafting Javen Collins, Hicks was reportedly given permission to seek a trade. A starting level linebacker, the Cardinals save $3 million in salary cap with a trade in June. A few teams could use a reliable veteran but Hicks is not a game changer.
Akiem Hicks – The other Hicks name has been rumored to be a possible trade or cut candidate this offseason but remains with the Bears. Cap savings do not change in June but Hicks is a name to keep an eye on as the 31-year-old could bring the Bears over $10 million in cap relief. This Hicks could create problems for the Browns but would also be a quality addition to the team as well.
Deshaun Watson – While the legal issues hang over Watson, a trade seems unlikely but a trade before June 1st would have lost the Texans over $5 million in cap space while a trade after would gain them over $10 million this year. Watson’s situation is likely to take some time to play out but, with the way the Texans operate, anything is possible. If Watson is cleared, wherever he plays could be a threat to the Browns and create more competition in the AFC or be an opponent in the Super Bowl if dealt to the NFC>
Whitney Mercilus – Another Texan on the list, Mercilus is in the final year of his contract and just turned 30 years old. With a rebuilding team without a lot of draft capital, Mercilus could bring back something of value while saving the team $4.5 million in cap space this year after June 1st. Baltimore, who lost both of their starting edge rushers, could use a player of his ilk if they can figure out the salary cap to do so.
The NFL offseason hits a bit of a lull after in mid-June until training camps open. June 1st is the last big date on the transaction calendar that could lead to a bump in action. Will we see a big deal go down as the month turns over? Will it be one of the above players?
June 1st and the impact on the salary cap could lead to some big movement in 2021 in the NFL.