By Bryan McGovern, The Sports Network's NFL Editor
Goal Line Stand
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you were looking for a summer football fix from the second wave of free agency in June, well, you're going to have to wait a few more weeks for the start of training camps. The June 1 cuts have always been overhyped, but the projected field of available players this time around will be the thinnest in recent years.
As the modern era of salary-cap free agency becomes second nature, capologists and front office personnel are mastering the use of the system. NFL clubs have grown accustomed to building their rosters by securing a small nucleus of key players, signing mid-level free agents and drafting wisely. Of course this formula for success doesn't always pan out, but the mega-contracts given to the Donovan McNabbs of the league are few and far between.
Teams are managing their cap situations far better these days. Nearly 70 percent of the league's 32 teams has a favorable cap status, which takes away the sense of urgency to unload overpriced veterans in June and July.
Some of the bigger names have already found homes. The New York Giants didn't want to wait until June to part ways with Jason Sehorn, and instead opted to absorb a greater portion of the cap hit this season upon his March release. St. Louis signed Sehorn, who will switch from cornerback to free safety, thus taking one of the big guns off the market.
Other name players to go before the second wave included Duane Clemons (Kansas City to Cincinnati), Dedric Ward (Miami to New England) and Shawn Jefferson (Atlanta to Detroit). LB Derrick Rodgers, who was going to be released by Miami due to the club's addition of Junior Seau, was traded to New Orleans in exchange for a 2004 seventh-round pick.
While guys like Rodgers and Ward are serviceable players, they aren't the big stars that fans crave to see on Sundays. However, they are the type of mid- level players that will be on the market during the second wave of free agency.
There won't be many surprise cuts in the coming weeks, but don't expect the market to be flooded on June 1. The majority of cuts come after the first day of the month.
CALLING ALL CARS
Brian Griese will headline the June cuts. The Michigan product never filled the gigantic void in Denver left by John Elway.
The 28-year-old Griese made 51 starts over the past four seasons. He threw 71 TD passes and 52 interceptions over that span. But his relationship with Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan deteriorated over last few years to the point where the club was willing to take a chance on another quarterbacking enigma -- ex-Cardinal Jake Plummer.
Still, Griese is young and possesses more talent than at least half the signal-callers in the league. His best season was in 2000 when he passed for 19 scores and was intercepted just four times. The Broncos will save almost $5 million by releasing him after June 1, but the team will have to absorb a $7 million hit on next year's cap.
Miami, which continues to insist that Jay Fiedler is its starting quarterback, is the most likely landing spot for Griese.
The other big names to hit the June market aren't so big. San Francisco is expected to part ways with WR J.J. Stokes, who caught 32 passes and scored one touchdown last year. He could wind up in Jacksonville as a complement to Jimmy Smith. Giants center Dusty Zeigler, whose knee injury is still bothering him, should get his walking papers. Kansas City CB Ray Crockett, Seattle safety Curtis Fuller and Indianapolis safety David Gibson are other potential cuts. There's also a chance Philadelphia parts ways with WR Freddie Mitchell, the Giants say goodbye to Ron Dayne and Chicago rids itself of WR David Terrell. The addition of Carson Palmer could allow the Bengals to drop big-time bust Akili Smith.
The biggest name on the market could be a player who wasn't even in the league last year. Terrell Davis is working out in Arizona with the hope of getting a shot to play for the Broncos again, but that's not likely to happen. Denver could release T.D. and let him try to get a job elsewhere. The Cowboys will be looking for a quality player to help starting RB Troy Hambrick, so that could be a match if Davis proves to be healthy.
During a time usually reserved for big splashes in NFL circles, few teams will be helped by what will be available during the NFL's second wave of free agency. The only big names around this summer will be in baseball stadiums and movie theatres.