Goodell, NFL told Redskins that league will not yield on salary cap penalty

March 17, 2013

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

PHOENIX — NFL officials, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, informed the Washington Redskins that the league is unwavering on the team’s two-year, $36 million salary cap reduction and has no intention of considering a lessening of the penalty, two people familiar with the situation said Sunday.

League representatives had a series of recent conversations with the Redskins about the salary cap penalty, said one of those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because team officials have said they do not consider the matter fully resolved. The team and the league, that person said, were in communication about the salary cap reduction as recently as early last week.

Redskins officials said at a news conference last Monday that they had abandoned hopes of recovering any of their lost salary cap space before last Tuesday’s opening of the NFL free agent market, but they had not given up on recouping cap space in the future.

According to the other person with knowledge of the matter, Goodell personally told the team that the league is unyielding on the salary cap reduction, the remaining $18 million of which must be absorbed by the Redskins this year. It was not clear to whom Goodell delivered that message or when that happened. But Goodell left open no possibility that the league will reconsider, the person said.

“It won’t happen,” that person said.

According to one of the people, the league won’t relent in part because it does not believe there is any reason to do so, and in part because any change to the penalty would have to be ratified by the other NFL teams and the players’ union. Both groups approved the original penalties given last year to the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, who received a $10 million salary cap reduction over two years.

Owners, general managers and coaches from the 32 NFL teams were gathering here Sunday for the annual league meeting. The meeting is scheduled to open officially Monday morning when Goodell addresses the representatives of the teams. Goodell is scheduled to participate in a news conference later Monday.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan is scheduled to speak to reporters Wednesday at the NFC coaches’ breakfast.

Last Monday, Shanahan said during a news conference at Redskins Park that he’d had “a lot of hope” that the Redskins would be able to retrieve lost salary cap space before free agency because “I don’t think we did anything wrong.” Asked when he’d lost that hope, Shanahan looked at his watch and said “a couple hours ago.”

He said later during the afternoon news conference that he’d been “just kidding” about losing hope a couple hours earlier, but added: “I was really hoping the last 24 hours we would get some good news from the NFL, that they would look at our situation and possibly give us some cap back. But that did not happen.”

Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen the same day called the salary cap penalty “a travesty of fairness.” Allen also said the Redskins “don’t feel that we were fairly represented in this case.”

Asked that day whether he thinks the Redskins still could regain some of their lost salary cap space, Allen said: “I would hope so.” Shanahan expressed similar sentiments.

The Redskins released cornerback DeAngelo Hall last week and have made few significant moves in free agency. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said after leaving the Redskins in free agency to sign with the Arizona Cardinals that the team’s salary cap woes were to blame. A person familiar with the team’s failed bid to land free agent cornerback Aqib Talib, who agreed Saturday to re-sign with the New England Patriots, said the Redskins’ salary cap situation was a significant factor in the negotiations.

The league ruled last year that the Redskins and Cowboys technically violated no salary cap rules but structured players’ contracts during the sport’s season without a cap in 2010 to attempt to gain an improper competitive advantage. The teams challenged the penalties in arbitration last year but had their case dismissed by the arbitrator.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mark Maske · March 16, 2013

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