Greetings fellow Redskins fans! Free agency is fast approaching and again we hear about the Redskins being fined $36M for "violating the spirit of the salary cap." Or how about the one about "competitive balance?" It really started to bother me how openly cocky the NFL has been; what they call "spirit of the salary cap" is actually called collusion. I watched as John Mara said draft picks should have been taken and, like many of you, wanted nothing but the worst for him and the Giants. Let's take a look at the background information and see if we can get to the bottom of this fine.
It's 2009, and the CBA is set to expire. There is no progress toward a new CBA and the owners have already determined they will be locking the players out. The owners don't like how much of the pie the players are getting and want to turn the tides in their favor.
In 2010 the NFL tells teams and GMs not to dump contracts into the uncapped year. A few teams do; among them, the Redskins. Albert Haynesworth's contract, along with DeAngelo Hall's, gets restructured to dump a lot of money into the uncapped year. The NFL approves these contract moves by signing off on them to avoid the obvious charges of collusion. All Redskins fans rejoice! We will have serious money, and are moving in the right direction. The season ends in disappointment, but hey, at least we have a ton of money right?
On March 12, 2012, right before free agency begins, news breaks; the Redskins will lose $36M over 2 years. That money will be spread among 28 of the other NFL teams. The NFLPA has signed off on the deal as well. What just happened? I'll give it to you plain: we almost ruined the NFL's lockout argument so they hit us hard. The NFL's whole argument was that the business of running an NFL franchise was more costly than anyone realized and they weren't turning much of a profit, if any. So, their plan was to limit the amount of money that went to the players. How convenient that this notion of profitability comes with the renewal of TV deals looming. Anyone remember the NFLPA wanting to the see the NFL's books, and the subsequent fallout? Well, long story short, the NFL bullied the NFLPA into getting what they wanted and in return, the NFLPA agreed not to pursue any legal action against the NFL. They also dropped the legal cases that were in full swing. The Redskins dumping outrageous contracts into the uncapped year made a mockery of the NFL's crying broke. How can you legitimately lock out players, look to slow salary cap increases, and set a rookie pay scale under the guise of not having the resources to pay the players when you dump $36M in one year? Simply because there was no cap? In essence the Redskins, with their actions, made the NFL's argument transparent and phony. Because of that, the NFL lashed out to quickly put the teams who did not follow the status quo in their places. The NFLPA could have argued that the cap could be increased if teams could afford to dump these contracts, and that was counterproductive to the NFL's lockout strategy.
The NFLPA had to agree to the deal because the $36M didn't disappear from the books, it was spread to 28 other teams. They thought they were looking out for the players' best interest, but they were really getting strong-armed by the NFL. The NFL basically told the NFLPA, "if you don't sign off the cap will become stagnant." This fine all comes down to money. Profits, salary cap (real or fictional) and the NFL's desire to expand its business.