The Plot Thickens


The news broke today and went off like a bomb (or so we thought). The NFL was taking away $36 million dollars in salary cap space from the Washington Redskins and $10 million from the Dallas Cowboys. Many news outlets jumped on the story and sports networks were alight with multiple stories, commentaries, and angles on how this would affect both franchises. But did everyone jump too soon? Or was this headline just the tip of a much larger “iceberg”?

To the Washington Redskins this was seen to be an especially big blow as they had just completed the blockbuster trade awarding them the number 2 pick in the upcoming 2012 Draft and, with that pick, the franchise quarterback they have been sorely lacking for ages. It was their intent to use their cap room to fill needs around him.

As for the Dallas Cowboys, they have not made any major roster moves such as the Redskins/Rams trade, but they have been making salary cap accommodations. Last week Dez Bryant restructured his contract to offer the Cowboys some cap relief, so the cap was (and is) very much a priority in Dallas.

Then in a strange twist, both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins issued statements addressing the “sanctions” imposed by the NFL. The Redskins’ statement read:

“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. 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.”

The Cowboys’ statement read in similar fashion:

“The Dallas Cowboys were in compliance with all league salary cap rules during the uncapped year. We look forward to the start of the free agency period where our commitment to improving our team remains unchanged.”

What can we infer from these statements? Well, at the very least it seems that both Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones appear ready to engage this issue. However they have both chosen to act as if the statements issued by the NFL just didn’t matter or were merely incorrect. Furthermore, by those assessments, the statement and the associated sanctions from the NFL just don’t exist.

There is no doubt that the NFL and the Players’ Union aren’t the only ones colluding here. It has been reported by multiple media outlets that the NFL required Players’ Union approval to enact the sanctions they were aiming for. In return, the NFL would dole out an additional $1.6 million in salary cap space to 28 of the 30 remaining teams and they (the NFL) would raise the salary cap to $120.6 million. It was also reported that the Players’ Union agreed. So, in essence, the NFL bought the union’s approval.

In response it would seem that Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones have swatted these measures aside as if they were annoying gnats in the summertime. I would be willing to guess that both owners are ready to go to court if need be (perhaps even together in a joint suit?) to argue their case which, on the surface appears to have genuine merit. Remember here that the Players’ Union was poised and ready to file suit against the owners and the NFL for similar behind-the-scenes gerrymandering. Also remember that the practices that the NFL now has a problem with, were during a season with no salary cap and were approved by the NFL Commissioner’s Office. Now they have a problem with these deals two years later? Isn’t the problem the NFL is claiming exists now, the exact reason that contracts are submitted for approval in the first place?

Another interesting aspect created by these statements is what affect, if any, it could have on the NFL approving the trade that the Washington Redskins made with the St. Louis Rams. Is it possible that the NFL sees these statements and decides to hold up approval for this trade? I see a standoff coming. Whether it’s this week or if it heads to a courtroom, I have a feeling that Roger Goodell and the NFL Players’ Union are getting ready to square off with the two biggest team owners in the NFL. So far, with the limited amount of information available at this time, I’d have to say that Goodell and the union are at a serious disadvantage. Maybe one of those two guys they can handle. But Dan Snyder AND Jerry Jones allied in a cause? Forget it. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on Dan & Jerry coming out of this one on top.