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Capgate: The NFL Throws Good Manure After Bad

Yesterday, Albert Breer wrote on NFL.com that the hearing over the salary cap penalties imposed upon the Redskins and Cowboys will take place May 10, probably in or near Philadelphia, where the NFL's system arbitrator Stephen Burbank teaches law. For background on the layers of bullsh*t, hogwash and twaddle that the NFL has peddled to attempt to justify its actions, click here, here and here.

But Breer's article included previously undisclosed gripes leveled by the other owners against the Skins and Boys for their 2010 salary actions. Do these new critiques finally reveal the true and fair reason that the two big spending teams were punished this and next year? No surprise, the new intel is just so much more garbage to throw atop the ever-growing crap heap of excuses, whines and pedantic capriciousness erected by the NFL and its apologists. Here's what Breer reports about why other teams were hopping mad at Snyder and Jerruh:

Among those hit were the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens.

Austin's contract was instrumental in pushing the franchise receiver price tag from $9.5 million in 2010 to $11.3 million in 2011. San Diego franchised Vincent Jackson at the latter number in 2011. The leverage Jackson gained from having an $11.4 million tender made him difficult to sign to a long-term deal, and the resulting 2012 franchise figure -- by rule, 120 percent of the previous number, which came out to $13.7 million -- made it even harder for the team to tag him again.

So San Diego, which likely would have tagged Jackson again had the number been more affordable, let Jackson walk. He signed a five-year, $55.6 million contract with the Bucs this offseason.

Similar to Austin's deal, Haynesworth's contract with the Redskins was central to the defensive tackle number soaring from $7 million to $12.5 million. Baltimore subsequently tagged Haloti Ngata at that figure in 2011. And while the Ravens wound up getting Ngata signed to a five-year, $61 million contract, having that extra $12.5 million on the cap from July until September cost them the ability to be more aggressive in free agency, according to team sources.

A similar dynamic existed, from a budget standpoint, in Miami, where Paul Soliai played 2012 under the $12.5 million defensive tackle tag figure.

The franchise tag number also soared at Hall's position (cornerback), jumping from $9.6 million to $14 million. No player was franchised at the corner position in 2011.

The top 2011 free agent at that position, Nnamdi Asomugha, would've had a high number regardless, because of his already high financial numbers, and the Oakland Raiders contractually couldn't tag him anyway. But Johnathan Joseph is an example of a player who might have been franchised if the number was lower than $14 million. The Cincinnati Bengals franchised kicker Mike Nugent instead, and Joseph bolted to the Houston Texans.

So the salary cap penalties are justified against the Redskins and Cowboys because they paid their players so much in 2010 that the franchise number for three positions went up in the next year? I call bull!

First, no team has to franchise any player. If San Diego, Miami, Baltimore wanted to keep certain players on their teams, they could offer long term contracts. The franchise tag is not supposed to be an easy out for a team - it's designed to incentivize teams and players to work out longer term deals.

Second, this complaint re-stankifies the odor of collusion that has been lurking around this issue. The three whiner teams have basically admitted that they were pissed at DC and Dallas for driving player salaries up, so the cap penalties smack of retaliation for not colluding to keep player salaries down. You hearing this FTC?

Third, I repeat my earlier point that if the league owners were so concerned about this franchise inflation issue, they could have simply written the new CBA differently. They could have included a provision that used 2009 salary figures as the franchise baseline, or excluded the three specific 2010 contracts at issue for calculation purposes. That's how grown ups deal with their problems - they work them out. They don't leverage an across-the-board salary cap cut to strong-arm the players into agreeing to a vindictive punishment after they failed to address the issue during the new CBA negotiations. That's some weak sauce, and Stephen Burbank should have no trouble seeing it for what it is.

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