“We thought it was important to do [the trade with St. Louis] before free agency to allow us the proper planning, and to know what you’re going to get with your first pick in the draft,” said Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen. “It gives you great comfort and allows us to execute the game plan that we developed in early January.
But the NFL may have complicated those efforts Monday when it took $36 million in salary cap space away from the Redskins, a penalty assessed because of the way the Redskins structured player contracts in 2010, when the league had no salary cap, according to people familiar with the matter. The league is taking similar action against the Dallas Cowboys, who will lose $10 million, according to one of those people.
The teams can decide how to distribute the cuts over two years, that person said.
The Redskins technically did not violate salary cap rules but attempted to gain an unfair competitive advantage in subsequent years, which were subject to a salary cap, according to three people familiar with the league’s thinking.
Allen said in a written statement released by the team: “The Washington Redskins have received no written documentation from the NFL concerning adjustments to the team salary cap in 2012 as reported in various media outlets. 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. We look forward to free agency, the draft and the coming football season.”
Redskins officials declined further comment.
This season’s salary cap is $120.6 million per team, a figure that includes a redistribution to other teams — except the Raiders and Saints — of the deductions from the Redskins and Cowboys.
“All the clubs were warned not to do anything to create a competitive advantage when the salary cap came back, and that’s what [the Redskins] did,” said one of the people familiar with the matter. “They were very obvious about it. A lot of people were very angry about it. The ramifications could have been far worse for them. They could have lost draft picks. Some people recommended that to the commissioner.”
According to that person, the Redskins reworked some player contracts to pay them large sums during the uncapped 2010 season and save money against the cap in subsequent years. The person said the Redskins, in large part because of those maneuvers, had a player payroll far in excess of other teams’ payrolls.