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March 26, 2012

Cowboys, NFL clam up on looming heavyweight battle over cap charge

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Palm Beach, Fla. _ The time for talking is over.

Now it will be left up to an independent arbitrator to decide on what has become a heavyweight battle, pitting the NFL against two of its marquee and most profitable teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

That was the stance the stance taken by the Cowboys and the NFL regarding the team’s decision to challenge the league’s move to take $46 million in combined cap space from the Cowboys and Redskins for legally dumping salary into the uncapped season of 2010.

The NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association, combined with the NFL on the decision, were also named in the grievance by the Cowboys and Redskins.

The arbitration will be heard by Professor Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania. No date has been set for a hearing.

Owner Jerry Jones was slated to discuss the matter with local reporters on Monday but canceled, declining further comment.

 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did likewise during a press conference concluding the first official day of the NFL Owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla.

He referred all questions to a statement released by the NFL, officially outlining the agreement it made with the NFL Players Association to set the salary cap for 2012 and reallocate salary cap from from the Cowboys ($10 million) and Redskins ($36 million) to 28 other clubs.

Per the statement, the reallocation aspect of the agreement is intended to address competitive issues arising from contract practices by those clubs in 2010 to avoid certain cap charges in 2011 and later years.

According to the league, the agreement will promote competitive balance without reducing the salary cap or player spending.   

Jones did state his case to the other owners during a meeting Monday morning.

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.

The Cowboys took the words uncapped year literally, pointing out if league had a problem with the contract it should have made it know then.

 What’s also unstated is that if the league instructed owners not to spend money in 2010 then they essentially engaged in collusion against the players in order to preserve “future competitive balance.”




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