Bruce Allen says Redskins’ salary-cap penalty won’t affect season-opening roster decisions

Bruce Allen

Redskins GM Bruce Allen, shown here during the 2011 labor negotiations, says the NFL’s salary-cap penalty continues to hinder the Redskins.  (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

RICHMOND — General Manager Bruce Allen said Friday that the NFL’s salary cap penalty against the Washington Redskins continues to plague the team. But the two-year, $36 million reduction won’t affect upcoming decisions related to the composition of the season-opening roster, Allen said.

“That salary-cap penalty will hurt us for a number of years,” Allen said at a news conference before the Redskins wrapped up their first training camp in Richmond with a practice Friday. “It’s just not those two years because [of] the repercussions of it down the road. We’ll keep the best 53 players and we’ll probably have to renegotiate some contracts and maneuver around it. But we’ll absolutely keep the best 53.”

Allen has been sharply critical in the past of the penalty, which was imposed by the league— with the consent of the NFL Players Association and the approval of the other teams —for the manner in which the Redskins structured players’ contracts during the sport’s season without a salary cap in 2010. The Redskins and Dallas Cowboys were found not to have technically violated any salary cap rules but were found to have attempted to gain an unfair competitive advantage. The Cowboys had their cap reduced to $10 million over two years. The two teams denied wrongdoing and challenged the cap reductions in arbitration but lost.

The Redskins won the NFC East title last season and re-signed most of their key free agents this past offseason even while operating with a tight salary cap situation as the second year of the reduction took effect.

On other topics, Allen said Friday that the team is not focusing at the moment on working out contract extensions with Coach Mike Shanahan and linebacker Brian Orakpo. Shanahan is entering the fourth season of his five-year contract. Orakpo is entering the final season of his deal and would be eligible for free agency next offseason.

“We’re trying to squeeze and see what that final 53-man roster is and make sure we have the cap room available for the guys who are on the team right now,” Allen said. “This isn’t the time that we’d be talking about the head coach or any of that stuff. And Mike is really focused in on this season. He’s put a lot of work into it. We’re more focused on what we’re going to do in the first game than we are about what’s going to happen after that.”

Allen said that he, like Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin III, is hopeful that Griffin will be ready for the regular season opener Sept. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The quarterback is working his way back from knee surgery in January.

“Training camp is really a great time when you can focus day by day because if you think, ‘Oh, gosh, we have seven more two-a-days’ or like that, you go crazy whether you’re a player or an administrator,” Allen said. “He’s doing well right now and he is ahead of schedule. In order for him just to do the seven-on-seven [passing drills] at the beginning of training camp, he was ahead of schedule. He’s getting his work in. I think if Coach wants to progress him over the next couple weeks, he will. But we’ve had no setbacks so far and the goal is for him to play in Week 1. I don’t know if it’ll happen.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

● Washington hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday at 8 p.m. in their first game of the preseason at FedEx Field.

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