Redskins penalized $36M in salary cap space

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The Washington Redskins, for years derided as champions of the offseason, positioned themselves Monday to legitimize that title in a salary-cap showdown with the NFL.

The league has penalized the Redskins a total of $36 million in salary-cap space over the next two years for moving expensive contracts into the uncapped 2010 season in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

However, the Redskins insist they did nothing wrong and are proceeding toward the start of free agency and the new league year Tuesday afternoon as if there were no penalty.

This could get very interesting.

“Every contract entered into by the club during the applicable periods complied with the 2010 and 2011 collective bargaining agreements and, in fact, were approved by the NFL commissioner’s office,” Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said in a statement.

A salary-cap penalty could hinder the Redskins‘ plan to fortify their roster this offseason. They can choose how they prorate the $36 million penalty over 2012 and 2013, a league source said. However, Washington has not been informed in writing of its adjusted 2012 salary cap, Allen stated Monday night.

The Redskins entered last weekend with approximately $40 million of 2012 salary cap space. Such financial flexibility would help them address several needs in free agency.

Adding a premier wide receiver, offensive linemen and defensive backs would help them withstand the net loss of the two first-round draft picks and second-rounder they recently agreed to trade to St. Louis for the second-overall selection in the 2012 draft.

It’s part of a master plan the Redskins intend to execute in the face of the $36 million salary cap penalty.

“We look forward to free agency, the draft and the coming football season,” Allen stated.

The Redskins‘ penalty is part of an agreement reached Saturday between the league and NFL Players Association. The union, therefore, will not appeal it, a source said.

The Redskins in 2010 restructured Albert Haynesworth’s and DeAngelo Hall’s contracts to include $36 million of bonus money in the uncapped season, according to the National Football Post.

The NFL Management Council Executive Committee “determined that the contract practices of a small number of clubs during the 2010 league year created an unacceptable risk to future competitive balance, particularly in light of the relatively modest salary-cap growth projected for the new agreement´s early years,” the league said in a statement.

The league’s retroactive condemnation of those contract practices ostensibly contradicts its decision to approve them at the time.

The league confirmed it reached an agreement with the union, but the terms were not disclosed. A union spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

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