Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his Cowboys counterpart, Jerry Jones, are challenging their salary-cap slapdown by the NFL. Washington and Jones formally requested on March 26 that their case be reviewed by Special Master Stephen Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania Law School professor who has become the arbitrator of all league disputes.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that it's unclear when Burbank will handle the matter, which involves Washington $36 million (over two years) and Dallas $10 million (over two years) having their salary caps reduced two weeks earlier, on the eve of the free-agent signing period for perceived financial misbehavior in 2010.
Allegedly, the Redskins put the remaining $21 million of then-defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's guaranteed money and another $15 million due to cornerback DeAngelo Hall into the uncapped year of 2010 while the Cowboys did the same with receiver Miles Austin to help their salary-cap situations whenever free agency returned in full after the signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
New York Giants co-owner John Mara, much more of a league insider as the chairman of the Management Council (the title of the group that negotiates the CBA with the NFL Players Association), than the frequent renegades from Washington and Dallas, was so outraged that he told ESPN.com that the Redskins and Cowboys should have been even more harshly penalized for reworking contracts for their own players.
"They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole, and quite, frankly, I they're lucky they didn't lose draft picks," declared Mara, whose franchise just happens to compete in the NFC East with Snyder's Redskins and Jones' Cowboys. "They attempted to take advantage of it knowing full well (that) there would be consequences."
Certainly Snyder and Jones and their 30 fellow owners were warned about consequences if they took advantage of the uncapped year, but the former were being their usual aggressive selves by spending the extra millions in 2010.
The Redskins and Cowboys will certainly make the case to Burbank that how the other owners agreed not to violate what the salary cap would have been in 2010, if not for the lapse in the CBA, was collusion. It's similar to the 1985-87 baseball offseasons when the owners had a gentleman's agreement to virtually stop signing multi-million dollar free agents.
Making matters worse, not only did the NFL dock the Redskins and Cowboys a combined $46 million, but it distributed that money to 28 of their rivals (New Orleans and Oakland didn't get any because of alleged minor cap shenanigans) to spend in 2012.
So in summary: all but two of the other 30 NFL owners agree not to rework contracts during the uncapped year. Then those same owners punish Washington and Dallas for doing so and stuff those bucks in their own coffers? And to a man (with one abstention) the other owners voted on March 27 during the league meetings in Palm Beach to approve the penalties levied against the Redskins and the Cowboys.
Snyder and Allen declined comment in Palm Beach.
However, coach Mike Shanahan spoke volumes with his comment: "Right now, I'm not allowed to talk about it. Believe me, I'd like to, but I can't."
No wonder Snyder and Jones asked for an arbitrator to hear their case. And if Burbank rules against them, don't be surprised if they follow the example of late Raiders owner Al Davis and sue the league and their brethren.
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