According to the New York Daily News, the New York Jets will take a massive $13 million cap hit if they were to trade Darrelle revis before June 1 (via JoeBucsFan). That's it then, right? No way a team in salary cap trouble takes that big a bath on a trade . We'll have to wait until after June 1 to see if a trade happens. Three more months of agonizing over Danny Gorrer possibly starting for the Bucs.
Except, that deadline is largely irrelevant. The difference between trading Revis before June 1 and after June 1 in 2013 cap hits is $9 million. The difference between trading Revis before June 1 and after June 1 for the 2014 salary cap is exactly $0. Now keep in mind that the New York Jets don't care about their 2013 salary cap. They have some $16 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap, which already includes a $9 million cap hit for Revis. Trading Revis now would cost them just $4 million in 2013 cap space, because Revis' $3 million salary and $2 million in roster and workout bonuses would come off the books. They have more than enough space to handle that.
To understand the math behind all of this, you first need to understand why June 1 is a relevant deadline. In essence, releasing or trading a player after June 1 allows a team to for salary cap purposes pretend the player was cut the next season. In other words: any bonus money that would accelerate and hit the cap this season instead would hit the cap next season. As a reminder, signing bonuses are pro-rated over the full length of a player's contract for cap purposes, and the portion that is still pro-rated in the future hits the cap the season the player is released.
In short, releasing a player after June 1 gives a team some cap relief this season at the expense of next season. And that's exactly why the Jets don't really care: they don't need cap space this season. They want it next season, when they're actually likely to start spending on free agents. There's no one left to spend big money on this year, and the Jets know they're not winning this season. They don't need the room.
In Revis' case, the math is fairly simple. He was signed to a six-year contract in 2010 with a $18 million 'option bonus' in 2011, which worked effectively as a delayed signing bonus. As a result that $18 million was spread equally over 2011-2016 as a cap hit at $3 million per year (the money was still paid out immediately -- cap hits and cash are separate). Incidentally, the seasons 2014-2016 are solely a financial construction: they will be voided and are just there to make the cap hit manageable in the first years of the deal by spreading the option bonus over a larger number of years.
$6 million of that signing bonus already hit the cap in 2011 and 2012, leaving $12 million over the upcoming four seasons. The $3 million of that bonus assigned to this season will hit the cap hit this year regardless of whether or not Revis is traded before or after June 1, so the question is when the other $9 million hits the cap: in 2013 or 2014. The timing there is completely irrelevant in practice, because teams can roll over salary cap space. Let me explain that point.
If the Jets were to trade Revis after June 1 they would indeed save $9 million in cap hits this season. They'd then be able to roll over that extra cap space to next season, giving them $9 million in extra cap space in 2014. Unfortunately, that cap space would then immediately be occupied -- by the $9 million Revis cap hit the Jets would be taking in 2014, because they opted not to take it in 2013. Net gain in 2014 cap space: $0.
Similarly, if they were to trade Revis before June 1 they'd take the $9 million cap hit in 2013. They don't really care about that, because they're not spending this year. It would mean $9 million less in rolled over cap space next season -- but then, they don't have that $9 million in accelerated bonus money in 2014 either. Net difference in 2014 cap space: $0.
So where did that ominously sounding $13 million cap hit number come from, then? Well, that's the $9 million accelerated bonus money, the $1 million roster bonus that was paid out on Saturday and the $3 million in pro-rated bonus money that will hit this year's cap regardless. So while the Jets would indeed take a $13 million cap hit, $4 million of that money will hit the cap regardless of the timing of the trade. The only thing that changes about trading Revis before or after June 1 is the timing of the $9 million cap hit, and as explained above: that timing doesn't matter one bit for the 2014 salary cap -- the only cap number the Jets should be concerned with.
In short: the June 1 deadline is irrelevant.