The Cowboys and Redskins have yet to officially go nuclear. But the two teams have commenced the process of challenging the decision to strip $46 million in salary cap space from the two teams that treated the uncapped year as, well, an uncapped year.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Cowboys and Redskins have filed a formal grievance against the NFL, the NFL Management Council, and the NFL Players Association challenging the agreement to remove and redistribute cap space allocated to the Cowboys and Redskins in exchange for increasing the total salary cap for 2012 to $120.6 million per team.
Not many details currently are known about the grievance. The other 30 teams will receive a full briefing this week, at the league meetings in Florida.
It’s currently believed that the grievance focuses on procedural defects, such as the failure to put the measure to a vote of league ownership or NFLPA leadership, without articulating the hot-button underlying argument that the Cowboys and Redskins are being punished for refusing to engage in illegal collusion in the year before the lockout began.
The grievance will be processed pursuant to the CBA, with a neutral arbitrator resolving the case.
The fact that the Cowboys and Redskins included the union in the grievance triggered the procedure that allows the teams to avoid a situation in which Commissioner Goodell resolves the matter. Instead, a true outsider will determine whether the action complied with the terms and/or the spirit of the labor deal.
To the extent that the Cowboys and Redskins plan to allege that they were punished for refusing to collude, that’s an argument that possibly could be raised later, via a federal lawsuit.
UPDATE 1:25 p.m. ET: The league contends that the arbitration will proceed under Article 15 of the CBA, which provides for “system arbitration” by Special Master Stephen Burbank and review by an Appeals Panel.