Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Mar 2012

Redskins, Cowboys Docked Cap Space

Adam Schefter is reporting the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys will be docked salary cap space for front-loading contracts paid during the uncapped year in 2010. The Cowboys lose $10 million, while the Redskins lose $36 million. The teams may split the amount by which they were docked over 2012 and 2013. The other teams in the league, save the Saints and Raiders, will be re-allocated additional money under the cap.

I'm going to go away somewhere and figure this whole thing out, because it doesn't make much sense to me.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 12 Mar 2012

145 comments, Last at 16 Mar 2012, 8:15pm by jebmak


by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:40pm

Wow, that seems harsh.

"The other teams in the league, save the Saints and Raiders, will be re-allocated additional money under the cap."

This just doesn't make sense, although now that I think about it, the NFL is required to spend a certain percentage of the cap so if they dock one team someone else has to spend it.

by RickD :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:41pm

So the uncapped year wasn't really uncapped?
I smell a lawsuit coming.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:56pm

Even after reading the other comments, I gotta agree with this. The rules were screwy, but they were the rules. I don't like either Jones or Snyder, but I think they're getting shafted by the league here. Jones and Snyder may have even saved the NFL a lawsuit because several teams tried to pay as little as possible during the capped year as there was no cap minimum either.

by Kanguru (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:06pm

There are no lawsuits ... anything related to this stuff is subject to arbitration :)

I think it was pretty clear two years ago the majority of the owners had a gentlemen's agreement in place to limit spending to put additional pressure on the players. There were almost no big deals that year. I think the remaining owners also had some mechanisms in place to prevent one or two to go haywire.

And it's pretty clear why the owner's did not publish the "there is no cap but all owners agree silently, that we won't spend any big $" on page one ... NFLPA would have been not amused ...

Now, Snyder seems to be the owner none of the other 30 guys can stand.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:46pm

I don't believe antitrust claims can be subject to arbitration. Given that the NFL is not a single entity this is an example of collusion that actually hurts some of the entities involved.

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:52pm

The NFL has an anti-trust exemption. The entire idea of both the draft and the salary cap are blatant collusion, and the draft most definitely hurts the earning potential of the players.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:06pm

The NFL only has a narrow antitrust exemption as it relates to negotiating television contracts (Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961). SCOTUS ruled in American Needle that the NFL does not have broad antitrust exemption -- which is why the loss of the collective bargaining agreement was so dangerous to the NFL owners.

Regardless, Al Davis has already proven an owner can win against the NFL under antitrust grounds.

MLB has a far broader exemption (which is probably the one you're thinking; Flood v. MLB), but even that has been whittled down in recent years and arguably only applies to the reserve clause.

by Rickyjohjima (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:36am

All firms have a antitrust exemption for actions taken as part of a collective bargaining process under the non-statutory exemption implicit in the NLRA (unions are not subject to antitrust laws, all collective bargaining contracts are restraints on labor, therefore it doesn't make sense for firms to be punished for what unions can legally do). Whether this qualifies as a labor dispute that would trigger the non-statutory exemption is debatable, I would fall on the side that says it isn't, but the exemption does continue past the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement in an undetermined point in the future.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:06pm

The NFL has a limited antitrust exemption in regards to its TV contracts. It of course has the labor law exemption with its employees (the players) through collective barganing that would prevent the players from suing.

HOWEVER, neither Jones nor Snyder are employees covered by the labor exemption nor the TV exemption. To me it seems like straight up collusion by the other owners. It almost amounts (although I'm not sure I would go this far) to naked price fixing, which is a criminal offense. The real point of the matter is that I think the league is going to get sued and will have to back off and compensate these teams at a later date. As an additional problem you really don't screw with Jerry Jones (as ruthless a man as there is in the league and one of the three who drove the CBA negotiations). I imagine Goodell is not long for his chair. And this will hurt the NFL at the next CBA negotiation. Now that there is evidence of the NFL's collusive behavior in the past they can more credibly put the screws on through legal action.

From a PR standpoint this is a terrible move by the NFL.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:15pm

I think your opinion may be driven by a lack of information; I doubt Goodell is getting legal advice from some slip and fall guys out of Schenectady. On the other hand, I was shocked at how poorly lawyered the last CBA was with respect to drug policy, so who knows? It just seems to me that there is an element to this story that has not been reported.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:39pm

PFT says the NFLPA signed off on it in return for the teams fiddling the books to give a higher salary cap overall in 2012 than would otherwise have been the case, for whatever that's worth.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:22pm

Well the NFLPA can sign off on their claim. I think they were stupid to given that the Cowboys and Skins would have spent all of this money and not all of the other teams will but I can see why they did it.

However, they can't compromise any of the owners antitrust claims. Now it could be as Will Allen says and we're missing a piece of the information (like Jerry and Snyder agreed to take this penalty) but it sure smells fishy to me.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:30pm

I thought I read somewhere that the penalties were agreed to in the new CBA?

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:42pm

"To remedy these effects and preserve competitive balance throughout the league, the parties to the CBA agreed to adjustments to team salary for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. These agreed-upon adjustments were structured in a manner that will not affect the salary cap or player spending on a league-wide basis."

Now, I'm not sure if Snyder and Jones knew how these "adjustments" were going to be handed out... so maybe the NFL is just puffing up its case. I mean, it would seem like if this was part of the CBA it would've been news.

Although, now that I read the statement... it seems like its worded to make it appear the owners agreed to these adjustments. So the NFL and NFLPA agreed that this deal doesn't violate the CBA... I think Snyder and Jones may have a case... although I'm not sure what type of "judicial process" they get.

I'm not sure how the CBA treats the salary cap... if it says they get equal salary cap with some clause that the commissioner can impose some penalties in a vague and ambiguous manner.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:12pm

This gets curiouser and curiouser. PFT is now sayng the Redskins and Cowboys have released statements denying any wrongdoing and they are looking forward to free agency. Does that mean they intend to ignore the clawbacks, and dare the league to declare subsequent new contracts illegal? Or does it mean that they are simply going to deny any wrongdoing, while accepting the clawbacks? If the latter, I'd say Jones and Snyder have some bodies buried that they don't wish to see uncovered via litigation. If the former, this might make Davis v. NFL look like a minor skirmish.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 03/14/2012 - 10:00pm

You forget that "we deny any wrongdoing" is a standard part of any corporate settlement agreement, even when they agree to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to settle a lawsuit that they were likely to lose.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:22pm

There was already "evidence of the NFL's collusive behavior in the past." Remember the federal judge ruling against the NFL re: the TV contracts being negotiated in bad faith?

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:26pm

-edit- accidental repeat

by apk3000 :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:43pm

Apparently the NFL is going to try to rationalize it as some sort of cap compliance agreement.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:44pm

Couldn't happen to a nicer pair of gentlemen. Soooo funny.

by Yuri (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:33pm

I am wondering if Jerry Jones' loudmouth comments during the lockout (which he got fined for) might have hurt his standing with the a little bit.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:25pm

Just because they have reputations as jerks does not mean they deserve this.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 03/14/2012 - 12:14am

And that doesn't mean it isn't funny.

by jebmak :: Fri, 03/16/2012 - 8:15pm


by LionInAZ :: Wed, 03/14/2012 - 10:03pm

I think they deserve it just for making their teams laughing stocks in the NFL because of their ego-driven maneuvers.

It's even better because Jerry Jones was one of the lead negotiators for the current CBA.

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:44pm

So two teams play within the rules, but two years later everyone else doesn't like it and so they retroactively get punished?

Very logical. Also, this "unfair competitive advantage" didn't really help either team.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:55pm

Sure it helped. The Skins were able to absorb the Haynesworth mistake without it affecting their cap in 2011 and beyond (loads of good that did them, of course). Of course, that's out the window now, and entirely by surprise. That's gotta hurt.

It seems like they played entirely within the rules, and furthermore, that anyone could've seen this coming, since most of Bruce Allen's contracts were written well in advance and had clearly visible clauses that allowed some of the trickery like the Haynesworth bonus conversion. So it seems odd that out of nowhere they've just decided to rip that money out of the cap. I don't like either team, and I know the league wagged a finger and sternly advised teams not to abuse that year, but uncapped is uncapped.

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:55pm

Either have rules or not. Hinting at them won't do anything. See NCAA -> College Football.

by Rabbit :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:04pm

They played within rules until Fat Al's $41mm in upfront money stopped being spread out over 7 years - cause they cut his ass. I'm guessing Roy Williams' cut did the same to Dallas.

Nope: "Miles Austin's heavy cap number in 2010 resulted in the Cowboys being punished"

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:09pm

JI Halsell has a great article - on this site if I'm not mistaken - about how Allen wrote the out into Haynesworth's contract that basically dumped most/all his guaranteed money into 2010 by triggering an option making future years player-voidable. If a year can be voided by a player, it doesn't count for proration. So that big option bonus that Florio used to remind us could be paid back ended up all going into the 2010 season the same way a roster bonus would.

Cutting him wasted a lot of cash, but the cap space wasn't an issue until now.

Some people like to hint at the potential for Luck to pull a power play like Archie/Eli and Elway did... Seems like the person who should really be doing that is Griffin. He will now have the pleasure of playing for a poorly managed team without any draft picks OR cap space. That's a recipe for success.

by Rabbit :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:27pm

I find that interesting because it attempts to undermine the 30% rule, and that rule was added specifically because of teams trying to undermine the cap. No wonder Snyder is being slapped around for it.

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:32pm

If Luck/RGIII pulls a power play on the Redskins, I'm out. Not with Dan Snyder as owner, and if that happens to give up 3 first rounders and a 2nd rounder and NOT get a QB, I'm a football undeclared for life.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:36pm

It'd be more fun that way. I think that should be your best case scenario.

by hrudey (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:42pm

It absolutely was here: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/under-cap/2010/under-cap-redskins-utili...

It's no surprise at all that using an accounting trick to dump huge amounts of money into an uncapped year is coming back to bite these teams.

by rageon :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:39pm

At the time, I was wondering why more teams didn't do this. Now I know. I'm going to assume they were told not to, otherwise it would be hard to rationalize any sort of punishment for it.

Of course, the counter to "they were told" was that I can't imagine the players union isn't going to flip out of such an "capped"-but-uncapped year.

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:48pm

The same amount of money is getting spent, they're just moving it to other teams. So I don't see why the union would care.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:41pm

The Union's agreed to it, because otherwise the NFL threatened them with a lower cap in 2012, per PFT.

by rageon :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:50pm

I'm not referring to the amount of money to be spent this (or next) year, but rather the act of hindering teams from doing what they want back then. For one, "capping" an otherwise uncapped year would certainly result in lesser dollars being spent. And aside from that, not allowing teams to move that money to that year would, in practice, prevent them from accelerating dollars players would have been paid in the future. I'd certainly prefer to get my money right away and guaranteed.

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:07pm

"For one, "capping" an otherwise uncapped year would certainly result in lesser dollars being spent. "

They didn't change the total amount of money spent, they shifted it from 2 teams to 28 teams. No money has been lost. Why would the union care again?

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:43am

Because the Cowboys and Skins definitely would have spent all of that money. Many of the smaller franchises might not. It's also more beneficial to the players to have teams with larger cap space rather than a bunch more teams with slightly increased cap space.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:51am

The NFL as a whole is required to spend 90% of the cap.

Your entire post is complete conjecture, and since the union seems to have signed off on this whole thing, they've come to another conclusion.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:33pm

Per Florio, there's more to it than that. The league threatened to use accounting shenanigans to reduce the cap to $113.5m or some such league-wide (or possibly that was the real figure and they offered to use accounting shenanigans to raise it to the current amount). Either way, the union got far more than just a wash.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:29pm

Well yes this is right I was just addressing the idea of the carve up necessarily being a benefit. And my understanding was the 90% floor comes into play next year not this year.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 5:14pm

There is a floor on the overall NFL cap right now, but not team specific. That comes in next year.

Though I could be wrong on the percentage.

by James-London :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:30pm

This would be comedy GOLD...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:37pm

If Washington didn't have a conversation with RGIII's agents before they mortgaged their future on him then they deserve to get screwed. Throw in that the general impression is that they knew this was going to happen and Griffin could make the case that they weren't up front with him. Comedy Gold indeed.

by Anon E. Mousse (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:02am

Could he really, though? Colts haven't signed Andrew Luck yet, which means that whoever picks at #2 isn't allowed to talk to agents about prospects, to my knowledge.

Yes, I'm sure this happens anyway, so not doing so would be pretty silly - but RG3's agent can't now cry foul to the media or anything.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 03/14/2012 - 12:17am

I don't think they can negotiate a contract before the draft but aren't agents 'supposed' to be able to boost their clients' draft position. I don't see how that would be possible if they couldn't talk to their agents and how are they to go about setting up workouts?

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:45pm

Can 31 teams file a lawsuit against the Colts for having Peyton Manning for 14 years, then going nearly 0-16 and getting the #1 pick the year the best QB since Manning comes out?

Seems to use about the same amount of logic to me....

by Rabbit :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:49pm

Washington loses again with Haynesworth. Worst. Signing. Ever.

by Spuddigger (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:02pm

Washington loses again with Haynesworth. Worst. Management. Ever.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:01pm

The only thing I can figure out is that the owners agreed (and I think the union must have agreed to it as well) to a rule in which existing contracts were not altered to dump all the money into the uncapped year, creating huge space after a new CBA was put in place. The union doesn't care, because all the cap space gets reallocated elsewhere, which spreads the benefit out to more players. I presume (which may be a mistake) that Goodelll is getting sound legal advice on this matter, and is confident that the two owners have a very small chance of a successful legal challenge.

This musch is for sure; Goodell is VERY confident of his standing with, what, 22 or 24 owners, if he is willing to bury Jones and Snyder, with Benson's plot ready to be filled as well.

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:08pm

If there was a rule, why did this not come out last year, for example?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:12pm

I have no idea; it's a private enterprise with a union that has no obligation to make public all provisions of their agreements and codicils? I think all except about 40 to 100 people are operating in the dark on this matter.

by RickD :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:17pm

The NFL makes a lot of hay with their anti-trust exemption. In that sense, they're not an ordinary private organization.

Slamming the local team for the seat of Congress might be a way of teasing that particular tiger.

Not that anything will actually happen other than the occasional grandstanding speech.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:27pm

Their antitrust exemption, which relates mostly to national television contracts, is much more narrow than baseball's, which mostly rests on a series of Supreme Court decisions written as if the the authors were in the depths of an ether binge. That's why I think their must be somenaspect of the agreements with the union and owners that we don't know about.

by Anon E. Mousse (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:07am

Washington, D.C. has no Congressional representation, which aside from being an outrage is also a reason that Congress will be *less* interested in this, given the Redskins' involvement - not more.

* Actually, the Redskins are based in Virginia, so they do have some Congressional representation to help them if they were so inclined. But you brought up the Washington angle.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:38pm

The central paragraph explaining this from the article is as follows:

"According to the sources, the deductions are not termed as violations, but are part of a recent agreement the NFL and the Players Association made to raise the salary cap number while preserving benefit increases and the performance pool."

I remain very confused as to how a "recent agreement" could lead to retroactive punish somebody for not following rules that weren't in place at the time.

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:49pm

The NFL is not government. They can do pretty much whatever they please to their members, as long as the members agree to it.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:02pm

That statement would also apply to government. Though I'm not sure why you brought government into it to begin with.

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:22pm

Because there are specific laws that prevent the government from retro-actively doing stuff like this. There is nothing preventing corporations from doing so.

As for how the NFL can do something like this, well I'm guessing 28 owners signed a contract that said the NFL can.

by markus (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:32pm

The article clearly notes this was part of an agreement between the league and the players union, so 28 owners never voted on anything.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:47pm

I don't think this is clear at all. These types of stories frequently employ the term "the league" when referring to matters that the necessary number of owners have agreed to.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:25pm

Yes but I don't believe other owners can sign away someone else's antitrust rights. Now if Jerry and Dan signed up to something that allowed this to be imposed then yeah the league is fine. But just having a league government structure isn't an excuse for punishing people who don't follow the cartel behavior.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:43pm

The league has previously punished owners who didn't follow cartel behavior as outlined with the salary cap, and it is not as if all these votes among owners have been unanimous.

We just don't have enough facts to judge the matter. This doesn't appear to have been a decision made very hastily however, unlike how the last CBA was put together in a rush, in order for the league's new year to begin on time. My inclination is to suspect that this has been competently lawyered, which means Goodell has not opened himself and the other owners to an obviously forseeable setback in court.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:42pm

I would never assume something has been competently lawyered even by very powerful organizations (especially when client hubris can get in the way of lawyering).

Now within the structure they created it was certainly a strategic masterstroke. Is Demaurice Smith wasn't up for contract renewal (and weren't generally craven) he could have easily called their bluff and said alright lower the cap but now we have bullet proof evidence of your collusion that would call into question the settlement of the collusion claims (not to mention create some ugliness with the Department of Labor).

We'll know how competently lawyered it was when we see Jones and Snyder's next move. The NFL doesn't have a particularly great record winning antitrust actions and especially not ones from owners (small sample size of course).

by PatsFan :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:51pm

Actually, SCOTUS has held that the ex post facto clause of the Constitution only applies to criminal statutes.

And on point, the US has raised income and estate taxes retroactively (as recently as the mid-1990s).

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:45pm

I should hope so too. What I do with my member is no business of the government, and frankly, short of DSKness, I don't think it's very fair that they have to worry so much about their members either, the poor dears.

by Rabbit :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:28pm

The 30% rule was included in the prior CBA. Page 133

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:38pm

My guess is that "recent" means, in this instance, just prior to the beginning of the uncapped year. Goodell and DeMaurice Smith were working very effectively together to get their respective sides to pretend to be playing chicken, while ensuring that everyone actually stayed on their respective sides of the road.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:24pm

It's noteworthy that they go out of their way to say that these weren't violations of any rule, which seems to acknowledge there weren't rules in place. In essence they're saying it was technically okay to do what the Cowboys and Redskins did, but that the future caps will assure everybody else realizes equal gains.

I look forward to learning more because this seems to be a very odd case. If there was an agreement in place, then why wouldn't these be called violations of that agreement? And why would the Cowboys and Redskins set themselves up to be penalized?

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:04pm

That tearing sound being heard is the sound of the very fabric of the universe ripping as both Cowboys and Redskins fans discover they have something in common, the loathing of Goodell.

by bubqr :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:27pm

Were there any signs ? Did I miss anything ? I just don't understand where this is coming from. I'm shocked.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:32pm

How the hell did Snyder make enough money to by the Redskins for the price he did? I know all great fortunes have an element of luck, but good grief, this guy seems like he would screw up a one car funeral procession.

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:36pm

He made his money in the late 90's tech market boom....

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:26pm

"this guy seems like he would screw up a one car funeral procession"

I laughed at your ether comment regarding the Supreme Court above, but this one might be even better!

by RickD :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:26pm

I think it's cool how the NFL waited until Snyder and Shanahan decided to go all in for RGIII, and then took away a stack of their chips.

(Excuse the metaphor that doesn't exactly fit right.)

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:50pm

I bet if the Redskins really want to, they could get out of the deal.

by markus (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:23pm

On what grounds do you think they'd be able to pull out of the deal?

And if it's okay to rescind the deal now, how close to draft time before the Rams would rightfully be able to say their ability to work out another trade was completely sabotaged?

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:25pm

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm just guessing that there are outs written into trade agreements. What if Griffin died tomorrow? Would there be no way for the Redskins to back out?

My larger point is that I doubt the Redskins want to back out.

by markus (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:40pm

No, I don't think there is a way to back out once the trade is approved. I believe it is a contract and they're stuck. If you're trading for a player, there's an out if the guy fails his physical, but that's it as far as I know. And this trade wasn't for Griffin--it was for the pick, so if RG3 gets in a car wreck tomorrow, the Skins would have no more relief coming to them than the Rams would if they'd kept the pick.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:46pm

Given that the trades can't be made until the start of the new league year, which is tomorrow, it wouldn't be that difficult as they haven't actually made the trade yet.

But given that the Redskins are one of the teams in the NFL, and the NFL has been negotiating what the salary cap will be for a good few weeks (at least), I suspect the Redskins knew this was coming.

by Lance :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:42pm

I'm confused. Since the NFL approves all contracts, how is it that now-- two years later-- they're suddenly illegal? If signing Miles Austin to a huge sum of money in an un-capped year was wrong, why was it allowed?

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:51pm

The contracts weren't illegal, and still aren't. No one is tearing up contracts here.

by Lance :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:07pm

Of course. But if you're only allowed to put so much money into a particular year, and Dallas and Washington were doing something wrong by putting more money than was allowed, the NFL shouldn't have approved the contract.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:47pm

Because the NFLPA* would have sued the hell out of them for collusion.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:00pm

Precisely the complaint I have.

Why wouldn't the NFL management council have just not agreed to contracts where dead money could be dumped into 2010.

General Secretary Goodell!
It's not like the Redskins need any assistance to screw up roster management...

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:04pm

Redskins are being penalized for the Haynesworth and Deangelo Hall signings; Cowboys penalized for Miles Austin.

by Sisyphus :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:06pm

This is all very strange in terms of timing. My immediate thought though is there are a bunch of lawyers who will be using this case to pay for new summer homes.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:00pm

It would be great if RGIII were to announce a week before the draft that he had no intention of signing with a team that had no 1st round picks for a couple years, 36 million less in cap room than was originally calculated, and a weak roster to begin with. Along with an owner who would have a tough time managing a self serve carwash. Griffin thus would declare that he was happy to sit out a year, if need be, because he had confidence that the Colts might not win a game next year, and thus would trade the right to draft him, to a team that still had first round picks to trade.

by jklps :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:07pm

If that happens, I quit. No more NFL.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:09pm

Oh, don't be a killjoy!

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:41pm


by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 11:15pm

I cannot believe I'm going to write something defending Danny Snyder, but saying he "would have a tough time managing a self serve carwash" is inane. This is a self made billionaire who moved on from his absurdly profitable marketing company to buy the skins in '99 for $750MM and has consistently had them in the top 2 or 3 most profitable clubs in the NFL (and he ain't doing that via cost cutting). He's an obvious jackass and has no idea how to build a _winning_ team, but he's a pretty phenomenal business guy.

I don't know what it does for your otherwise good arguments to muddy them with counter-factual garbage like that.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:28am

Hey, we'll see how this turns out. If he gets 36 million in cap room clawed back, because he chose to ignore some plainly written directives, he's a dope, perhaps a financially successful dope, but a dope nonetheless.

by Theo :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:29pm

Look, if the guy is in it for the money, than he doesn't want a winning team. He wants a profitable one.

by dryheat :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 8:00am

I think I remember reading something a number of years ago that one of Snyder's companies made a fortune by illegally switching folks' long distance carriers without their consent, or even knowledge? I forget the details, but remember that there was a lawsuit brought up by Snyder for defamation about 2 years ago.

Of course, being an ethical businessman might not be a pre-requisite to being a good businessman, and most billionaires are probably ethically challenged to some extent.

Edit - I'm confusing a few things. The libel lawsuit was in response to this:


Part of which deals with the telephone shenanigans.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:43am

On the business end of things both Snyder and Jerry Jones have been good.
I think it's possible this was a calculated gamble where they figured the odds were reasonably good they'd get away with it. Four teams apparently tried dumping salaries in the uncapped year; maybe Snyder and JJ thought that number would be significantly higher, meaning there wouldn't have been a majority to vote any punishments.

On the other hand, Lenny Dykstra made himself big bucks with his car wash business before becoming an investment guru...past successes don't guarantee future returns or even that the guy was very smart to begin with. It's tough not to make money as an NFL owner, particularly when you own big-market, storied franchises. You're only as smart as your last deal and Snyder and Jones both look like idiots right now.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 6:22pm

Most of the money to buy the Redskins came via loans, so Snyder isn't quite as rich as we're sometimes led to believe. His net worth is just over $1 billion. Filthy rich, but he's not Bill Gates nor anywhere close. This list puts him as the 12th richest NFL owner. As for his intelligence in business, that's hard to say. No doubt he's had success, but many of his ventures including the marketing company he and his sister started were pretty simple enterprises. The Redskins with the NFL's unique structure might be the most complicated business he's in.

As for running the Redskins: 7 coaches in 13 years, 91-117 overall, with the high point being Marty at 8-8 in terms of guys Snyder picked. He inherited Norv Turner and he's the only one who managed to win more than he lost with Snyder as owner.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:39pm

The Redskins were 10-6 in 2005 and 9-7 in 2007 under Gibbs.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:30pm

Count me with the ones who think this is inane and unfair.

by Temo :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:40pm

Jerry Jones is a lot of unsavory things, but "ruthless", I think not.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:42pm

He is to Cowboy fans.

by Temo :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:46pm


by Joseph :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 11:19pm

As a Saints fan, why are they and the Raiders left out in the cold on the ~$1.7MM on the cap everyone else is getting? [I assume there must be a monetary reason--not just because the Commish wants to get back at those two teams for "bountygate" and screw over Al Davis again.] Cause the Saints could use every extra cap dollar they have to try to re-sign Nicks and/or Colston, plus work out a long-term deal for Brees.

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 8:49am

From what I understand the Saints and Raiders committed the same "crime" as the Redskins and the Cowboys except not as severe, so their punishment is no reward.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 11:33pm

“The Washington Redskins have received no written documentation from the NFL concerning adjustments to the team salary cap in 2012 as reported in various media outlets,” Redskins G.M. Bruce Allen said. “Every contract entered into by the club during the applicable periods complied with the 2010 and 2011 collective bargaining agreements and, in fact, were approved by the NFL commissioner’s office. We look forward to free agency, the draft and the coming football season.”

Let the litigation begin!!

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:30am

I also don't think the teams had advance notice on this; or else wouldn't people have heard about this? Or maybe the league was trying to reach some type of situation where the teams agreed that they were doing something wrong and took the punishment.

by akn :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:12am

This just goes to show you that anything the NBA can do (Chris Paul fiasco) the NFL can do better.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 7:54am

While I also question the "fairness" of this, looking at yhe accounting shows both Wash and Dal are far enough under this years cap to handle mist of the impact this year.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:08am

This basically puts them back to where they would have been without the 2010 salary dump, which means, in the Redskins' case, being forced to deal with the awfulness of giving Albert Haynesworth a lot of money.

I also heard this morning that it was the Management Council that made this finding, not just Goodell. If there is litigation it'll be Jones and Snyder directly pitting themselves against, what, 26 other owners, given Oakland and the Saints getting minor penalties.

It seems the other owners' position is that the CBA ultimately allows the Management Council very broad discretion is divvying up the cap, subject to the union's consent. In other words, once the union agrees to it, the Management Council can take what measures it deems fit in the interest of maintaining competitive balance. The Council says it warned individual owners not to treat 2010 as a salary dump, and the union agrees to these measures, so that's that.

If David Boies or Kenneth Starr, or some other anti-trust expert who charges a thousand dollars an hour has an opinion, please share it with us.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:37am

I'm not so sure this is all that bad for the Redskins. They're rebuilding this year anyways, and if they take the majority of the cap hit this year, they'll have their load of cap room next year. At which point they should actually have a better handle on their team after Griffin's rookie year.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:56am

If they can manage it with their fan base, I also think they oughta' take all the bitter medicine this year, shore up the offensive line as best possible (won't they still have enough cap space to sign a Carl Nicks?), let Grossman get the crap kicked out for him until the middle of October or so, and then have RGIII play out the rest of the season. Next year, get more agressive, and hope you do well with your 2nd round pick, which would be like the 35th overall or so.

by mrh :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:20pm

Whether or not this apparent league decision is legal is different from whether or not it is fair and I don't know enough of the legalities to say. But as a non-Cowboy or Redskin fan, it seems fair to me - no team should get to have extra cap now by gaming the rules, especially since the other teams (minus Raiders and Saints) tried to play (sign contracts, cut players, etc.) as if the cap was coming back.

I believe Jones and Snyder knew what they were doing and knew that the other owners wouldn't like it, but decided to try to get away with it. As far as I can see, they are not really being punished with extra cap deductions, just being held accountable for the cap hits they tried to hide in 2010, so they aren't much worse off than they would have been if they had just taken the normal cap hits of the Haynesworth, Hall, and Austin contracts.

Left unsaid so far (I think) is that this is not Shanahan's 1st brush with the salary cap police. I'm sure he was involved with the decision-making on these deals and equally sure that the league hasn't forgotten his past.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:32pm

re: mrh
The year was an "uncapped" year. If it was treated as a capped year; that would be clear collusion to depress salaries. Are Haynesworth, Hall, and Miles Austin going to be required to give back any portion of the salary that they received? Afterall, they were given larger contracts because the year was uncapped.

How dare the Cowboys and Redskins try to pay more for players and treat the year as a really uncapped year!

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 1:03pm

Absent the union joining in making the accusation, I don't think the collusion allegation has any legs. The union has signed off on this, which leaves Jones and Snyder in a pretty weak position.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:51pm

How? Remember American Needle specifically found that all of the NFL teams are separate entities and it is not a single entity for antitrust purposes. You're looking at it only from the perspective of the labor exemption to antitrust law. The union sign-off eliminates the union's right to complain and saves them from labor law problems and the employees damages from the collusion.

But given the NFL is trying to enforce a penalty against the two separate entities for violating an illegal collusive agreement, unless Jones and Snyder agreed to sign away their rights (which apparently didn't happen in the most recent CBA itself given what I'm reading) they would seem to have a strong case to argue collusion and therefore a Section 1 violation. Davis succeeded in the 1980s with a similar argument. Of course the problem will be this may not end up actually helping the teams in the short term absent an injunction. Keep in mind that this type of price fixing is capable and often is prosecuted as criminal behavior.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 3:01pm

If the salary cap is legal, I find it hard to believe the courts would care much how it is dolled out among the teams.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 3:03pm

Given what we are talking about here is the amount of compensation provided to labor, it would seem that the labor antitrust exemption would have some import, as compared to, say, whether an owner can move his franchise without consent of the other owners.

Like I said elsewhere, I'd love to hear the opinion of somebody who bills large amounts of money every hour to litigate antitrust cases. I also have some doubts as to whether the value of potential victory in litigation for Jones and Snyder comes anywhere close the potential price of litigation. Think about it; does Jerry Jones really want to wage war on his business partners, for the right to waste money on Roy Williams?

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:36pm

Given the way in which the Labor Union was bought off with an impossible choice and how much cartel behavior is disfavored (particularly when there was no CBA operating) I'm not so sure. My understanding is that the new CBA itself didn't address this punishment (if it had specifically addressed it then I agree the labor exemption would pretty much be the end of it if the players signed off). My understanding is that the management committee has the same power it has always had to control the cap and in this case decided to use it to punish the Cowboys, Redskins, Saints, and Raiders (but not of course the Packers, Bears, or Houston who arguably abused the system as much or more than the Cowboys and more than anyone other than the Skins) for not following the gentleman's agreement. This improper use of a CBA granted power is what would be the problem.

From a tactical perspective I think Jones is less likely to litigate for anything other than an injunction (which is why the timing of this is so shady as it is clearly designed to basically make an injunction moot). I do think Jones will use whatever the next opportunity is to revenge himself on Goodell and K.O. him from the league and I imagine if the Mara's are ever caught in anything they can expect some wrath as well. I expect the next CBA negotiation to be very interesting with the big market owners taking some revenge on the smaller markets.

As for Snyder I think he absolutely will sue and seek an injunction and probably would continue for damages.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 5:02pm

My prediction is that these sanctions don't stick. My rationale is pretty simple:

1. The Redskins have already indicated via their press release last night that they have no intention of abiding by this decree.

2. It's apparent from the decree that there was an agreement among owners to treat the uncapped year as capped.

3. That's collusion.

4. As an owner and hence an insider, Snyder will have contemporaneous evidence of that collusion.

5. No way the NFL risks going to court over this, if those are the facts.

That said, I don't have a decent hypothesis for why the NFL has taken this action, one that I don't think has any real chance of sticking, other than hubris. In any event, it's at least:

1. Made the offseason a little more interesting, and
2. Done the heretofore impossible: created a situation where I side with Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder!

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 6:08pm

If that was the case, then the Management Council would not have just handed the NFLPA an extra 180 million or so in salary cap. If they were going to back down if Snyder said "no", they never would have made the offer to DeMaurice Smith to begin with.

It is more likely that they have decided that Snyder is not psychotic, and will not litigate against the golden goose, over a measley one year salary cap clawback and redistribution of 36 million.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:23pm

key flaw in your conjecture is that Snyder has already told the league to F off -- right there on Redskins.com. Also, I'm not sure why you'd call it "psychotic." He has something like 90%-100% of his net worth and something north of 100% of his psychic energy invested in the Redskins. He was just handed a completely insane and what appears to be illegal on its face sanction that limits his ability to compete under the same terms as everyone else. And while he may be complete asshat, he's competitive as all get out.

Plus this is the same guy who took an old lady season ticket holder to court over her seat license and took a publication no one had heard of to court over an article no one would have otherwise noticed.

If you think he's laying down for this, you've got another think coming.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 03/14/2012 - 2:30am

OK, you made your point. He is a psychotic who is willing to sue the golden goose over a nearly trivial two year restriction on his ability to make an ass of himself yet once again by throwing money at problems he doesn't understand. You are also entirely overconfident of your opinion of the apparent legality of what the Management Council did.

If he actually has a rational regard for his net worth, suing over the inability to screw up again is exactly the wrong thing to do. Hell, even if he were to win, which is at best probably a 50/50 proposition, what would the damages be? Regarding that matter, the league's attorney's would put Albert Haynesworth on the stand, to testify how he became worth tens of millions of dollars, followed by the jury watching video of Fat Albert laying about like a walrus cow ready to give birth. The jury would return a USFL-style damages judgement of one cent.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 3:22pm

Also, I'd be surprised if Jones and Snyder did not sign off on giving the Management Council the power to divvy up the cap as it saw fit, if the Council believed it was doing so in order to promote competitive balance. Now, if the Council decided that they were going to claw back and redistribute cap room on the basis that the two owners here are A-holes, then Snyder and Jones could complain that this is not rational, since there are plainly at least a couple dozen A-holes that own NFL teams. If Jones and Snyder have agreed to give the Management Council such power regarding cap monies, for the purpose of pursuing competitive balance, and the Council can make a case that this is what they were doing, and they gave all owners a heads-up back in 2010 that they were going to pursue this goal down the line, this non-expert thinks it gets to be a lot harder for Jones and Snyder to successfully litigate, and certainly calls into question whether the risk/reward ratio is anywhere attractive enough to do so.

I think the odds of the Holder Justice Department seeking criminal sanctions against the NFL Management Council is roughly equal to Lady GaGa's odds of becoming a nun.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:40pm

Even if they signed off on giving them general authority to allocate the Cap (i.e. CBA authority where it would have to be) it to me is the same as in general agreeing to give the league power over moving from city to city. When the use of that power is anti-competitive that's when they get involved.

As for Holder bringing those charges I imagine you're right. However, my understanding of the justice departments pursuit of antitrust is that it's decided by local offices. Probably also unlikely but would be interesting.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 6:02pm

The entire point of the labor exemption to antitrust is anticompetitive.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:27pm

What do you mean "not all bad"? They aren't getting that $36M in cap space back. If the management council didn't want contracts to abuse the allegedly "uncapped" year by treating it as "uncapped", don't approve the contracts!

What about Julius Peppers' contract that year, as well?

by akn :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:41pm

Even with his front loaded contract, the Bears were still within spitting distance of whatever the cap would have been that year. In fact, I believe the Bears were in the middle 1/3 of roster salaries that year.

by JMM* (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 1:48pm

Maybe since the Peppers contract was a new contract and the Wash and Dal contracts were extensions? I read it as the contracts were redone with the intent of pulling future capped funds into an uncapped year.caa

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:00pm

Yeah, I think that is it. Many teams have for years used available cap space to pay out the first big chunk of cash in the first year of a contract as a roster bonus, instead of a signing bonus, thus avoiding proration, and freeing cap space in future years. Many teams have done conversions from a prorated remainder of a signing bonus to a roster bonus, to do the same. I think the issue was in doing that type of conversion, and even converting future salaries to immediate bonuses, in an uncapped year, which raised the ire of the rest of the owners, and apparently the Management Council sent out as many as 6 memos saying the practice would have future ramifications once the new CBA was in place. If Snyder and Jones were hell-bent on this course, they should have lobbied to reign in the power of the Management Council. Maybe they did, and their efforts, unsurprisingly, failed.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:43pm

So, it looks like the Redskins and Cowboys disagree with the cap number allocated by the NFL management council.

Does this mean at some point, the Redskins will sign a player (for instance, Vincent Jackson), which will put them over the NFL management council cap. The NFL management council will reject the contract; and then perhaps Vincent Jackson will bring a lawsuit saying that the NFL management council is colluding to hold salaries down? And the Redskins will bring a lawsuit saying that the NFL is engaging in illegal business practices?

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 12:48pm

I'm no lawyer, but I don't think a player has a leg to stand on with regards to the NFL saying a contract would put the NFL over the cap. The salary cap is by definition a collusion to depress salaries.

Jones and/or Snyder might have more of a claim, but I really doubt the NFL doesn't know what it's doing here.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 1:07pm

Jackson is part of the union which has signed off on this. I suppose he could try to end his membership in the union, and take the path of a lawsuit. I don't think that would be the desired route for a 29 year old guy. I'd think his agent will advise him to sign a contract that doesn't result in years of paying litigators.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 1:40pm

So basically the other owners can screw any other owners they want to, simply for breaking rules which weren't in effect? I was just trying to do a mental exercise... it seems strange the NFLPA would screw over the only two owners willing to pay their members more.

Apparently the NFL still hasn't put it in writing for the Cowboys and Redskins, so I take it the management council is going to reject contracts which put them over the cap the management council has set for them (not the other teams).

I guess pushing the cap up from $114M to $120M was enough to buy off the NFLPA anyway. NFLPA willing to lose $36M in Cowboys + Redskins salary portions, but they gain $180M in the total pool (a net of around $150M?). Am I thinking about that correctly?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:04pm

If the owners have given the Management Council that much leeway, subject to the union's consent, yep, it would appear the Management Council can put the screws to two owners. Frankly, the harm incurred from taking the cap clawback, especially in regards to the Cowboys, is so temporary and uncertain (taking away the ability to toss another pile of cash towards the likes of another Haynesworth may actually be a benefit), that the two owners would be nuts to litigate, and risk damaging the surest cash cow in the television entertainment industry.

Yes, basically, 28 owners bought off the NFLPA, in order to not give 2 owners the benefit from doing a salary dump in the 2010 season.

(edit) I should add that this is a somewhat rare instance of the NFLPA putting the interests of the mediocre player above the interests of the small percentage of elite players.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 3:05pm

I direct you to:


It contains most of the opinion allowing the Raiders to move to LA despite the delegated authority to the NFL preventing them from doing so. And it also detailed other areas where the NFL has fallen on the wrong side of the law (including its cross-ownership rule). Context is of course slightly different here but just because authority is delegated does not mean that authority can be used to engage in anticompetitive behavior.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 3:32pm

Moving a franchise does not have anything to do with labor compensation.

(edit) To clarify, this would not simply be Jones and Snyder litigating against the other owners. It would also entail Jones and Snyder litigating against the NFLPA, since the union's clear preference is for a larger cap overall, compared to two franchises having a lot more cap room. The two owners would be arguing that the labor antitrust exemption does not apply to an agreement between the Management Council and the NFLPA.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:45pm

And labor compensation only marginally has to do with the allocation of salary cap to teams. If the CBA doesn't grant the management council authority to retroactively punish the contracts by reallocating cap space (which I've read it does not), then the management council deciding to do this would seem to fall without the bounds of their authority (since the reason for their action would be to enforce an anticompetitive agreement). As far as the Union's clear preference it doesn't really mean much if that comes about by a violation of the CBA.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 5:59pm

"Marginally" is in the eye of the beholder, and the NFLPAs behavior clearly indicates that they don't think the allocation of salary cap to teams is only marginally related to labor compensation. If the Union odesn't think the CBA has been violated, I think Jones and Snyder's chances of making the case in court are slimmed to the point where Jones in particular would have to say to his attorneys, "I'm going to fight this war over 10 million in extra salary cap in 2012?"

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 6:07pm

Also of note, is that no one has really been punished. This is more like an accounting correction. There are no long term affects on any franchise involved, no draft picks docked, and the teams are allowed to spread the hit over 2 years.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 6:15pm

Yeah, the notion that this is such a severe penalty that they would go to war against their business partners, in the most risk free and profitable enterprise in the history of the entertainment industry, over a what is really a trivial 10 million in cap space that can be spread over two years, and a barely more than trivial 36 million in cap space with the same option, really is argument that Jones and Snyder need to be committed. Al Davis being able to move his team involved real money. This? It doesn't amount to anything, by comparison.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:50pm

$18M/year is not "barely more than trivial." It's downright crippling!

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:13pm

It isn't 18 million a year. It is 18 million this year, and 18 million next year. In other words, it is not much more than one typical Danny Snyder crappy free agent signing.

by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:19pm

It's also not reducing the salary cap, it's paying back cap space he borrowed in 2010.