The Redskins' fight with the NFL over the $36 million cap hit is long from over, but I think it'd be worthwhile to try to come up with some of the things the Redskins should be seeking to make it right.
Let's hope this issue is settled and the Redskins are victorious both with the league and in the court of popular opinion before 2013's free agency period rolls around. Assuming that's the case, we can strike out the 2013 share of the penalty, which we'll assume to be $18 million, or half of the total penalty, as it seems unlikely the Redskins will agree to take more than half the penalty this year.
So if we void the 2013 penalty of $18 million, there are still three basic beefs the team will look to set right:
- Having $18 million of cap space docked in 2012
- 28 teams getting a $1.6 million increase in salary cap space in 2012/2013
- The timing and uncertainties surrounding the penalty and the negative effect on the team's ability to effectively manage its 2012 free agency period
The first issue is pretty easy to fix - give the Redskins back the cap value they lost in 2012 for 2013. But the value shouldn't just be $18 million straight up - it should be proportional to the 2013 cap. So this year, $18M is 14.9% of the $120.6M salary cap. The Redskins should get the greater of $18M or 14.9% of the 2013 cap added to their salary cap for 2013.
The second issue should be dealt with similarly - the Redskins should get the greater of an extra $1.6M in cap space in 2013 or 1.3% (1.6/120.6) of the 2013 cap. This would basically result in the 2012 salary cap being $122.2M instead of $120.6M for all teams (yes, the Raiders, Saints and Cowboys should get this bump too).
The third issue is the most subjective - what quantifiable harm did the league do to the Redskins by announcing the penalties and the mandatory $18M 2012 hit on the very eve of free agency? The effect of the penalty's timing was to scrap the team's comprehensive plan for free agency. I'm sure that potential acquisition targets may have been spooked by the penalties, fearing either that the league would reject their contract with the Redskins, or that the team would be less competitive in 2012 as a result of the decreased payroll. Those free agents that did sign with the Skins may have demanded a premium in salary guarantees, contract length or total contract amount to compensate for the reduced attractiveness of playing for Washington when compared to an unpenalized DC squad. But even if we could identify the true dollar value of those premiums, the problem of figuring out exactly how much worse off the Redskins were as a result of the 11th hour penalty resists precise monetary quantification. That is why the Redskins should demand satisfaction from the NFL in the form of additional draft picks. While this too would be more art than science, draft picks are the league's competitiveness currency, and the league should pay with what it holds dear for its malfeasance.
I think an additional first round draft pick (pick 33 overall) might be fair, but If the NFL wishes to atone within the rubric of the compensatory pick process, perhaps the Redskins should demand a haul of compensatory third round draft picks that would amount to a similar overall value - maybe six third rounders?
To recap, here's my demand if I'm the Redskins:
In 2013, the Redskins get to use the full salary cap plus $18 million plus $1.6 million (or 14.9% and 1.3% of the 2013 cap, if greater), plus receive the 2013 number 33 overall draft pick, which they may use before the team that holds the first second round slot picks.