- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Washington Redskins are moving on after an arbitrator Tuesday dismissed their grievance challenging their $36 million salary cap penalty.

Stephen B. Burbank, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, also granted the NFL’s motion to dismiss the Dallas Cowboys‘ challenge of their $10 million cap deduction.

Both teams responded to Burbank’s ruling by ceasing attempts to dispute the penalties.

“We pursued our salary cap claim pursuant to the CBA, and we respect and will abide by the arbitrator’s decision to dismiss,” a joint statement by the Redskins and Cowboys read. “We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.”

Click here to view the document of the ruling (PDF)

Burbank, in an 11-page ruling, determined the NFL and the NFL Players Association were within their rights to amend the new collective bargaining agreement in March to include salary cap penalties against both clubs.

Washington was penalized a total of $36 million in salary cap space over the next two seasons for moving expensive contracts into the uncapped 2010 season under the old CBA. The league considered it an attempt to gain a competitive advantage, even though the Redskins did not violate the existing CBA in doing so.

The Redskins had little more than $18 million subtracted from the $31 million in salary cap space with which they expected to enter 2012. The rest of the penalty is scheduled to affect their 2013 cap. The 2012 salary cap was set at $120.6 million.

General manager Bruce Allen said he was “obviously disappointed,” as quoted by the Associated Press at the NFL owners’ meetings in Atlanta. Allen wouldn’t publicly speculate how the penalties might inhibit the team.

The NFL imposed the penalty on the eve of the new league year in March, and the NFL Players Association agreed to it. That agreement between both parties of the CBA ultimately is why the Redskins‘ grievance failed.

According to a league source with knowledge of the situation, owners would not set the 2012 salary cap and move forward into the new league year until the union agreed to one of two options: either a lower salary cap in 2012 than in 2011 or salary cap penalties against the Redskins and Cowboys, with that cap space distributed equally among 28 other clubs. New Orleans and Oakland were excluded from the redistribution because owners determined they engaged in similar contract-shifting practices to a lesser extent.

Because the NFLPA represents players employed by all teams, not just the Redskins or Cowboys, it agreed to the option that pays the most money to players throughout the league, even though that came at the expense of Washington and Dallas.

The Redskins and Cowboys together sought arbitration to dispute the deductions. At a May 10 hearing in Pennsylvania, the teams argued that the league and union’s agreement to penalize them violated several articles of the CBA.

According to Burbank’s ruling Tuesday, the teams contended the penalties violated the article in the CBA that prescribes the method for determining the salary cap; the article that provides that the “Salary Cap is the same amount for each Club;” and the article “which proscribes collusion to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making concerning designated matters.”

Burbank, however, validated the agreement between the league and union to amend the CBA to include the salary cap penalties.

When owners at the league’s annual meetings in late March voted 29-2 (with one abstention) to ratify the amendment, that satisfied the requirement of needing three-fourths approval, according to Burbank’s ruling.

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