POSTED 10:39 a.m. EDT; UPDATED 10:59 a.m. EDT, June 7, 2006

Mike Florio

On Tuesday, we cited a league source for the proposition that the recent trade of 2003 first-day draft busts between the Saints and Pats would not trigger the acceleration of any bonus amounts that otherwise would have been allocated to future league years. The former rule requiring full acceleration of all unallocated bonus money, per the source, has been revised to permit trades occurring after June 1 to be treated in the same manner as contract terminations occurring after June 1.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has confirmed that the rule has changed. "The new rule is in effect," Aiello wrote in a Wednesday morning e-mail. "If the trade occurs after June 1, the assigning club's signing bonus acceleration (if any) is postponed until the first day of the 2007 league year. The club would continue to bear the cap charge for the current year's prorated signing bonus (this is not considered acceleration) plus any amounts that have already been earned under the 2006 contract."

For example, if a player signed in 2005 a four-year deal with a $4 million signing bonus, a trade of that player after June 1, 2006 would result in a $1 million cap charge for 2006 and a $2 million cap charge in 2007. Under the old rule, a trade occurring at any time in 2006 would have resulted in a $3 million cap hit in 2006.

Just how obscure is this new rule? The guys who get paid by the NFL to write about the sport don't even know about it.

In an item posted by Pat Kirwan of on June 6 regarding the Pats-Saints trade, Kirwan states that "[t]rades are considered the same as a termination before June 1, so the Patriots must absorb the remaining bonus now."

Should the guys who get paid by the NFL to write about the sport know about this tweak to the rules? That's a call that the folks who sign the checks need to make.