Why June 1st Is A Meaningful Date As Far As Free Agency Goes

So far this offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed four unrestricted free agents from other teams and being as they now have less than $300,000 of available salary cap space until June rolls around, we aren’t likely to see any more, if any, signed until then.

While lack of cap space is an easy reason to point to as to why another unrestricted free agent from another team isn’t likely to be added by the Steelers until June, there’s also another not so obvious reason.

Any unrestricted free agent that is signed from the start of the new league year until June 1st, regardless of the amount of the contract, could wind up figuring into the compensatory draft pick formula next offseason. That’s why you will more than likely see several teams wait until June to sign remaining unsigned unrestricted free agents from other teams to their roster.

Sure, normally these players only sign one-year qualifying contracts, but they still count just the same and that player could wind up figuring heavily into the compensatory formula should they wind up playing a lot and having a good season.

Steelers unrestricted free agent safety Ryan Clark is still looking for a new team and being as the initial rush of free agency is now over, the compensatory formula factor could wind up factoring into him remaining unsigned until June. If you’re a Steelers fan, however, you want to root for him to be signed by a team that really needs him before then, as that could potentially be considered a free agent loss for Pittsburgh.

In the case of players that are street free agents, however, there is no risk in signing them prior to the start of June as those players had their contracts terminated by their former teams. A good example of this is linebacker James Harrison, who had his contract terminated by the Cincinnati Bengals just a few weeks ago. Much like new Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore was, Harrison is now a street free agent.

Of course if a team really wants and needs an unrestricted free agent player, they’re going to sign them, but for fringe players such as Clark and several others, it could be a while until they find a home for 2014.

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