Last year, the NFL stripped a total of $46 million in cap space from the Cowboys and Redskins because they treated the uncapped year of 2010 too literally. With half of the penalty applying to 2012 and the other half to 2013, the situation is creating renewed rancor for the Redskins as the new league year approaches.
And for good reason. The Redskins lost $18 million in cap space last season, and they’re losing another $18 million in 2013. That’s roughly 15 percent of every dollar the Redskins otherwise have to spend.
As one league source explained it, the Redskins remain extremely upset about the situation, strongly believing they did nothing wrong. In our view, they’re right. Each and every player contract that supposedly violated the “spirit of the salary cap” was approved by the league in 2010 and complied with the rules that were on the books.
Of course, the contracts were approved because failure to do so would have flagged for the NFLPA the fact that collusion was occurring.
That continues to be the bottom line. The teams were colluding in the uncapped year, and the Cowboys and Redskins were punished for refusing to go along with the plan. The league wisely kept the situation under wraps until the ink was dry on the new labor deal, which prevented the players from suing for collusion.
The Redskins, in theory, could still sue. An unsuccessful effort was made under the CBA to challenge the penalties after they were issued, but the Redskins have stopped short of filing an antitrust lawsuit against the league and the other franchises.
That approach would create a major mess for the NFL and for its teams. Apart from the obvious discomfort arising from one member of the league suing every other team (except the Cowboys), the airing of dirty laundry could attract the attention of folks in Congress or the Justice Department. The unintended consequences could culminate in an attack by politicians on the NFL’s holy grail of antitrust immunity — the TV broadcast exemption.
So there’s nothing that the Redskins can do about this, especially if the goal is to get their $18 million back before March 12.That said, the Redskins could draw up the paperwork for litigation and demand a meeting with the Commissioner and the members of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee and explain during that meeting what will happen in court if the cap dollars aren’t immediately restored. Unless, however, the Redskins are ready to proceed if their bluff is called, that would be a waste of time and effort and money.So their best investment of time at this point would consist of an effort to make the most out of their remaining cap money for 2013. It doesn’t mean the Redskins weren’t screwed, but unless they’re willing to pull the pin on the litigation grenade, their best bet will be to move on.