Redskins give up hope of recouping salary cap space before NFL free agency opens


“I had a lot of hope that we’d have money back, a lot of hope,” Coach Mike Shanahan, right, said during a news conference at Redskins Park. “I don’t think we did anything wrong. . . . Obviously there was a disagreement there. But yeah, I was hopeful we’d get some of that back.” (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)
March 11, 2013

The Washington Redskins abandoned hopes of being able to retrieve any of their lost salary cap space in time for the opening of the NFL’s free agent market Tuesday, team officials said Monday.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he had maintained optimism until very recently about being able to recoup some of that cap space before free agency.

“I had a lot of hope that we’d have money back, a lot of hope,” Shanahan said during an afternoon news conference at Redskins Park. “I don’t think we did anything wrong. . . . Obviously there was a disagreement there. But yeah, I was hopeful we’d get some of that back.”

Asked when he’d lost hope of having some of the team’s $36 million, two-year salary cap penalty overturned before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. opening of free agency, Shanahan glanced at his watch and said it had been a “couple hours ago.”

Later he said: “I was just kidding [about] a couple hours ago. But I was really hoping the last 24 hours we would get some good news from the NFL that they’d look at our situation and possibly give us some cap back. But that did not happen.”

Shanahan and Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said they had not given up on being able to reclaim some of the salary cap space in the future. When asked whether the team still could have some of it restored, Allen said: “I would hope so.”

Allen declined to specify how he thinks the Redskins might reclaim some of the salary cap space they were penalized last year by the NFL with the consent of the players’ union. “There are some” options, he said. “We’re just going to continue. We would like to know the truth and we’ll find it.”

Allen said the Redskins “have never contemplated a lawsuit.” He added later that the team will “always look at our options.” Several people who have been in recent communication with team officials reiterated they had been told by them that the Redskins have considered possible litigation on the matter.

The league ruled last year that the Redskins technically violated no salary cap rules but attempted to gain an improper competitive advantage through the manner in which they structured players’ contracts during the sport’s season without a salary cap in 2010. The Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, who were given a $10 million cap reduction over two years, denied wrongdoing and challenged the penalties in arbitration. But their case was dismissed.

On Monday, Allen called the penalty a “travesty of fairness.”

“There was no trial,” Allen said. “There was no hearing. There was no back-room discussions involving the Washington Redskins. . . . We learned about the salary cap penalty from agents and the media. Despite the fact that the NFL and NFLPA supposedly represent all the clubs and all the players in the league, we don’t feel that we were fairly represented in this case.”

The league declined, through a spokesman, to respond to Allen’s comments.

“As we learn more, we’ll continue and look at our options as we go on,” Allen said. “But right now we’re focused on free agency and the draft.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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