It took about two weeks of mayhem for the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys to take their first official step towards striking back at the seemingly obvious and glaring mis-deeds of the National Football League, and to a lesser degree - the NFLPA.
The move is in direct challenge to an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA to punish four teams (Redskins, Cowboys, Raiders, Saints) that removed and redistributed cap space allocated to the Cowboys and Redskins (to the other 28 teams) in exchange for increasing the total salary cap for 2012 to $120.6 million per team.
I'll be the first to tell you that I am probably missing some huge element of this fiasco that gives the NFL a legal leg to stand on, but based on everybody that I've talked too, inside and outside the organization, many who would not agree to be quoted, even anonymously, this situation appears to be a disastrous (at the least) and completely unwarranted decision by the NFL and NFLPA. It would not be the first time that the two sides screwed something up royally.
According to Cole, the league also forced, reportedly, the NFLPA to agree that they would not file any collusion charges against the NFL, for having -- well u guessed it - colluded league wide by issuing strict warnings to not over spend and violate the 'competitive balance' in what was a limitless salary floor and ceiling year.
Cole reported on twitter on Sunday that the NFLPA was 'secretly hoping' for this as a way to get more evidence of collusion
The Redskins, by the way, simply did not violate any rules by doing some crafty accounting and converting signing bonus money of DeAngelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth to a so called 'option-bonus.' Did they violate the 'spirit' of the rule? Maybe.
Giants Co-Owner John Mara, who also serves as the the Chairman of the NFL Management Executive Committee said on Sunday "I thought the penalties imposed were proper. I think they're (Redskins/Cowboys) lucky they didn't lose draft picks," according to ESPN.com
"As we already know, the agreement regarding the imposition of the penalties was struck between the NFL Management Council Executive Committee and the NFLPA, making it a revision of the CBA without a vote of the league’s owners or union leadership. That deal happened even though Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was and still is a member of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee.
It’s one thing for the so-called CEC to use its delegation of authority to work out side agreements with the union. It’s quite another for the CEC to do so without knowledge of one of the men who has secured membership on the CEC," courtesy of Pro Football Talk
"As of March 11, the Redskins had a total team salary of $141.6 million. By virtue of the Haynesworth and Hall renegotiations of March 12th, this number is now roughly $170 million. To put this in perspective, the baseline salary cap in 2009 was $128 million. So what did the Redskins do?
In his infamous $100 million contract of 2009, Haynesworth had a $21-million option bonus. As part of the deal, the Redskins reserved the right to convert that option bonus to a signing bonus, and that’s exactly what they did. But they converted it with a slight twist. Not only did they convert the option bonus to a $21-million signing bonus, but they also added a voidable provision. In the provision, if Haynesworth pays back $26 million of his signing bonuses, then the 2011-2014 contract years void away. From a team salary accounting standpoint -- because the voidable is solely in the player’s control -- the proration of the signing bonus does not go into 2011-2014. That means all of the $21 million signing bonus counts in the uncapped year of 2010. As a result, Haynesworth’s team salary number in 2010 went from $8.8 million to a whopping $25.6 million. His subsequent team salary numbers are $6.4 million, $8.2 million, $10 million, $10.8 million, and $12.8 million, respectively."
Halsell continued, and in what is perhaps the most interesting part of the column - this was a move that Bruce Allen was more than familiar with and had already used before. "The voidable language added to the Haynesworth and Hall contracts is the same device included in the contract for center Jeff Faine that Allen (signed/changed) in Tampa. Interestingly, Allen named the voidable clause the "I-4 Off-Ramp," named after the highway that joins Tampa to the rest of central Florida."
This fact, means that just like the NFL league office approved the Haynesworth and Hall deals, they also approved the Faine deal when, THERE WAS A SALARY CAP, which technically would be violating the spirit of the cap that particular year.
Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post and ESPN, in an e-mail to HogsHaven.com recently said this: "I am not defending the penalties levied on the Redskins, but there is a point that needs clarification. The Redskins did not front-load newly negotiated contracts into the uncapped year. They renegotiated existing contracts that were already on the books to dump future years' proration into the uncapped year. There is a big difference between the two."
Our spin is this. The Redskins did not go out and purchase any new toys, like Julius Peppers or Karlos Dansby or any of the other few premium unrestricted free agents in 2010. As Brandt said above, this wasn't a new contract - just an old one that they re-structured. If they had done so, I think you could argue more fairly that Washington violated the spirit of the salary cap. Of course, as you know - every contract has to be approved and is subject to cancelation by the NFL office.
My ESPN 980 colleague, the very shrewd Kevin Sheehan, wisely brought up a point that the Redskins would have just likely released Albert Haynesworth prior to June 1 of 2010, to cut the contract off the books, if the voidable clause had not been allowed. Under the old and then current collective bargaining agreement, and under the new CBA as well - if you release a player before June 1st, the players amortized salary cap bonus "dead money" counts on that years cap in its entirety.
The Cowboys did front-load the Miles Austin contract, that they are accused of, but again, he was property of the Cowboys. They did not go out and 'buy' a new player, with a front-loaded deal. If anybody did that, it was the Chicago Bears and the deal they inked with Julius Peppers.
The breakdown of Julius Peppers deal with the Bears is as follows according to Rotoworld.com, which is widely regarded as the best hub for NFL contract information: - "3/5/2010: Signed a six-year, $84 million contract. The deal contains $42 million guaranteed, including a $6.5 million signing bonus, a first-year roster bonus of $12.5 million, and a second-year "signing" bonus of $10.5 million. Another $7.5 million is available through incentives based on sacks, Pro Bowl berths, and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Peppers can earn annual $100,000 workout bonuses in years one through five. 2012: $8.9 million, 2013: $12.9 million, 2014: $13.9 million, 2015: $16.5 million, 2016: Free Agent."
It's my understanding and I am far from an expert, the Bears deal with Peppers allowed them to count the 12.5 million dollar roster bonus (which is a blatantly obvious guaranteed contract mechanism) on the 2010 uncapped year, so it would not be a 'signing bonus' which has to be spread mathematically (2 + M approximate per year) over the remaining years of the contract. This would be in addition to the 6.5 million dollar signing bonus that Peppers actually did receive upon inking the deal, which does get spread out.
If you combine Peppers base salary of 2010 (figure unknown) plus the 12.5 million 'roster bonus' - it seems to me that would be a classic case of 'front-loading' a deal, with a NEW free agent. Something the Redskins did not do.
One last example, and yes it is under a salary cap and completely legal as far as I can tell - the Denver Broncos who had ample salary cap space in 2012 - decided to make Peyton Manning's 18 million guaranteed this year, a guaranteed base salary. In the past, teams have given smaller 'base' salaries and higher 'signing bonus' figures so they could spread it out against the cap.
The point is, the Broncos front loaded the contract to avoid having signing bonus money spread out over a number of years, because they had ample space under the cap. and that obviously is an important qualification (cap vs. no-cap) but theoretically, it does violate the 'spirt of the rules.' Doesn't it?
My point is - EVERYBODY is finding different ways to work the numbers and if it was allowed and approved by the league, oh freaking well. The league should just pipe down and accept the fact that they screwed this whole process up.