NFL free agency has come to a standstill for most of the league's 32 teams.
That's because we're now less than a month away from the draft, not to mention the fact that teams would rather wait until June 1 to begin signing players again. That's when teams can begin adding unrestricted free agents without affecting draft compensation. The post-June 1 cut designation is also why that date is key, as that's how teams are able to cut some players and push their cap hit to the following league year.
However, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports the June 1 deadline has now been moved up about three weeks:
Starting this year, that date will move from June 1 to May 12, according to the league office.
The Competition Committee had 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 offseason 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.
As Florio said, this gives free agents a better chance of landing a job right after the draft ends versus in June when teams are beginning or have already conducted their mini-camps and other OTAs.
It also means teams like the Bengals, who don't usually sign many, if any unrestricted free agents before June, will be more active signing guys in May. The Bengals tend to sign guys who have been cut and won't affect compensatory draft picks, but they also frequently add a few unrestricted free agents in June once they don't affect those picks.