The NFLPA’s ongoing effort to pursue the league for collusion in the uncapped year has made even more clear the chain of events that ultimately triggered the union’s claim that a secret salary-cap existed in 2010.
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the NFLPA has acknowledged in an appeals-court document the deal made last year to ensure that the salary cap would not fall from $120.6 million per team in 2011.
“In early March 2012, the NFL was negotiating with the NFLPA to obtain its consent to certain team salary cap reallocations as a quid pro quo for an NFLPA request to defer the salary cap charge of certain player benefit costs to future league years,” union lawyers wrote in a legal brief filed earlier this month.
The phrase “cap reallocation” relates to the $10 million taken from the Cowboys and the $36 million removed from the Redskins by the league, based on the fact that those teams treated the uncapped year of 2010 as (imagine that) uncapped. The NFL couldn’t finagle those penalties without the union’s approval, so the league traded an agreement to increase the salary cap for an agreement to pick the pockets of the Cowboys and Redskins.
It’s believed that the extra cap space didn’t come from the NFL’s pockets, but from a reshuffling of players dollars due in future years. These maneuverings, which also happened in 2013, have contributed to the perception that the cap will “smooth” not “spike,” because any spike coming from the new TV deals will be subsumed within the efforts to keep the salary cap on the rise.
Estimates in 2012 had the salary cap dropping in 2012, possibly by more that several million per team. With NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith up for re-election only a few weeks after the finalization of the 2012 salary cap, a reduction in the team-by-team spending limit could have sparked a mutiny on which the players could have acted swiftly and decisively.
Making the situation even more curious was the union’s decision to agree to the “reallocations” (which surely flowed from the perception by other owners that the Cowboys and Redskins took too much advantage of the uncapped year) and then to try to sue the league for collusion. Regardless of whether the players’ right to sue for collusion occurring in 2010 were waived in the 2011 labor deal (Judge David Doty has ruled that they were), there’s an inherent inconsistency in agreeing to whack the Redskins and Cowboys and then claiming that the whacking of the Redskins and Cowboys constitutes catching the NFL with its hand in the cookie jar.
By continuing to push the issue via an appeals-court proceeding, the union risks shedding even more light on a situation that could be used against Smith when he’s up for re-election again.