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PFT rewind: Cowboys, Redskins issue was obvious in 2010


I remembered enough about the uncapped year to remember, once hearing about rumors of cap maneuverings on Monday, that the Cowboys and Redskins were the most likely targets of any effort to rob from the rich and give to the poor. Along with pretty much everyone else.

I’d forgotten some of the details. Fortunately, a few of you have better memories than me.

On September 18, 2010, we explained that, in the absence of the salary cap, Dallas owner Jerry Jones and Washington owner Daniel Snyder had dumped millions into the uncapped year. For the Cowboys, the number was $166.5 million. For the Redskins, it was $178.2 million.

“Both teams run the risk that the new CBA will include some type of reallocation provision aimed at reversing the effects of contracts engineered to take full advantage of the uncapped year,” we wrote at the time. “Though Jones and Snyder may regard such an outcome as unfair, two votes wouldn’t be enough to block the move.”

The problem is that the new CBA didn’t attempt to reallocate cap dollars, most likely because any effort to ding the Redskins and Cowboys for taking advantage of the rules of the uncapped year would have made the NFLPA even more convinced that the teams were indeed colluding in 2010 to hold down spending in the uncapped year. (Indeed, the league said nothing at all about the Cowboys/Redskins issue during the uncapped year, or during the CBA discussions.)

So instead the NFL waited until 2012, when the NFLPA was “scrambling” to find a way to prevent the team-by-team salary cap from shrinking for the first time ever. So instead of regarding the league’s proposal as the “Eureka!” moment that confirmed the existence of collusion prior to the lockout, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith apparently embraced the opportunity to avoid the challenge of explaining to the Executive Committee and the Board of Player Representatives at the upcoming annual meeting how and why the new CBA resulted in a salary cap that somehow dropped.

At the other extreme in 2010 were four teams who remained under $100 million: the Cardinals, Jaguars, Chiefs, and Buccaneers. If the league is so concerned that the Redskins and Cowboys skewed competitive balance by forcing too many dollars into the uncapped year, why isn’t the league equally concerned that the teams that didn’t spend contributed to any actual or perceived issues of competitive balance?