The calendar has shifted to the month of June, meaning a second stage of free agency, albeit a very minor stage, is set to kick off in the NFL. June is obviously not the free agency buzz-saw that occurs three months prior, but for teams in need of a veteran presence or two throughout their rosters, the month presents the perfect time to make those moves without affecting their compensatory pick formula.
A byproduct of the reformed 2006 collective bargaining agreement, players whose contracts expired outright or were released during spring, can be signed by new teams after June 1 without making an impact on the compensatory formulas of both their old and new clubs. They will not count as a player lost by the former team, or as a player gained by the new team. Thus, franchises employ the tactic of waiting until June to plug some of the final holes that may still exist after the inital waves of spring free agency and the NFL Draft.
For the New Orleans Saints, the only major concern being brought to the forefront this month will be franchised Tight End Jimmy Graham's grievance hearing, which will be held on June 17-18. While Graham's case and subsequent contract negotiations may be firmly atop the team's list of fires to extinguish, there still exists the possibility that a move could be made to further bolster the roster ahead of training camp, which begins late next month.
The Saints have already hosted former starting Center Jonathan Goodwin on a free agent visit, with the view to potentially signing the former Jet and 49er sometime over the summer. Goodwin, who won Super Bowl XLIV with New Orleans before joining San Francisco, could provide cover and competition for rising 2nd year player Tim Lelito. Lelito still appears to be the in-house favorite to replace Brian de la Puente, the team's 2013 starter who signed with the Chicago Bears during free agency. However, the former undrafted product out of Grand Valley State has never started at Center and has seen sparse action in his brief career. Tim Lelito sits atop the Saints' depth chart at Center.
Lelito played most of his college snaps at Guard, and his former GVSU teammate Matt Armstrong has also been brought in as a 2014 UDFA to compete for the Center job. Armstrong played all across the line in college, but spent his final campaign at Center. If Goodwin is, indeed, brought back to the Crescent City, it may not be until later in the summer. Goodwin is already more than familiar with Sean Payton's offense, and at age 35, the 11-year veteran does not need the coaching-up or hands-on teaching that younger, more inexperienced players such as Lelito and Armstrong will benefit from in OTAs.
As for how designated post-June 1 cuts would affect the Saints, the answer is not at all. There was speculation that players such as Brodrick Bunkley or Patrick Robinson could be designated as June cuts, but both remain on the roster. Bunkley accepted a pay cut to remain with the team, while Robinson still appears to be a part of the team's plans on defense. Therefore, with the team having made a bevy of moves in free agency, coupled with the loss of just three players outright (de la Puente, Charles Brown and Malcolm Jenkins), the Saints won't stand to see any upward or downward movement in the trend of their compensatory pick formula.
Outside of Goodwin, not many viable veteran players jump out as options who could improve the team. Defensive Tackles like Isaac Sopoaga and Ryan Pickett remain available, but both are unlikely to be seen as more of an alternative than a player like Bunkley, whom the Saints' staff is familiar with. Sopoaga is coming off a year in which his run-stuffing skills appeared to diminish with the Eagles and Patriots. Meanwhile, Pickett, who is 35, could ultimately end up back with the Green Bay Packers should they choose to pursue him. At this stage of his career, he is no more than an early-down run plugger.
The Saints may watch the waiver wires throughout July and August in an effort to spot talent that they feel could help improve the team, but the June market, by and large, is unlikely to impact the franchise much if at all. Bringing back Jonathan Goodwin remains an option, but that is a route that could always be explored later in the summer. All that should concern the New Orleans Saints for now is preparing themselves to deal with the Jimmy Graham situation. Stay tuned.