We found out on Wednesday that the Buccaneers abstained from the vote to impose cap penalties on the Cowboys and Redskins as well as their rationale behind it.
As Florio reported, the team didn’t like the unequal distribution of penalties to those two teams while the Saints and Raiders were simply excluded from sharing the bonus cap space the rest of the teams will enjoy as a result of the penalties. Their abstention also calls attention to the fact that the team spent well below the cap floor in 2010 without getting any reprimand from the league. Commissioner Roger Goodell explained why during his press conference at the owners meeting.
“No there was no issue there,” Goodell said, via Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times. “[The question was] did any teams gain a competitive advantage. That was the focus that we and the [players’ union] had moving forward. That’s why we reached an agreement . . . so no one had a long-term competitive advantage. That’s what the NFLPA and we agreed on.”
It’s hard to understand how teams spending less than the cap doesn’t have an adverse effect on competitive balance. If the argument is that spending too much creates an advantage for the teams that did the spending, then it stands to reason that spending less gives the same advantage to all of the teams that spent the amount agreed upon by the league.
The argument about long-term competitive advantages is sounder as the moves by the Cowboys and Redskins were designed to disproportionately take advantage of the uncapped year. That said, it still feels off that penalties for violating the “spirit” of the cap in an uncapped year, to use the words of NFL Management Council Executive Committee chairman John Mara, only applies to teams who spent more than the league might have liked.