By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
Palm Beach, Fla. _ The Cowboys have chosen to fight back against the NFL for taking $10 million of salary cap space away from them earlier this month for allegedly and seemingly legally dumping money into the uncapped year of 2010.
According to a team source, the Cowboys along with the Redskins, who were docked $36 million in salary cap space, have filed a formal grievance against the league.
The grievance was filed against the NFL, the NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association who all partnered in a agreement to dock the Cowboys and Redskins cap money in part to help set the 2012 cap figure at $120.6 million.
The news comes on the eve of the NFL Owners meetings, which begin Monday and run through Wednesday the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach.
It will likely dominate the talk at the meetings but it will not be heard or ruled on this week.
Special Master Stephen Burbank, who handles arbritration between the players and the league, will rule on the appeal.
No time table has been set on when he will hear the case.
Filing a lawsuit is also another option for the Cowboys, but upon arriving at the owners meeting vice president Stephen Jones said the team is trying to resolve it by arbitration first.
"We are trying to avoid that," Jones said possible taking legal action.
According to a Cowboys source, the team feels it has a good case largely because the NFL management council originally approved the contracts in 2010.
The contract at issue for the Cowboys is the six-year, $57-million deal the team gave receiver Miles Austin, which included an unprecedented $17 million base salary.
Even though 2010 was an uncapped year, meaning the teams could presumably spend as much as they wanted, the league warned teams to not use the year as a financial dumping ground to preserve future competitive balance.
Even though that stance suggests the NFL engaged in collusion in 2010, the league is standing behind its ruling.
Giants owner John Mara, who is the chairman of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, said the Cowboys and Redskins are lucky the penalties weren’t much worse.
“I thought the penalties imposed were proper,” Mara said Sunday. “What they did was in violation of the spirit of the salary cap. They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole, and quite frankly, I think they’re lucky they didn’t lose draft picks. . . . They attempted to take advantage of it knowing full well there would be consequences.”
Jones disagrees with Mara about the possibility lost of draft picks as well as the entire case.
"That's John's opinion, that's not my opinion" Jones said. "We have our views and they have their opinion. Obviously, that’s we will go before an arbitrator."