On the recent arctic chill in the air: “These salary cap hits just sapped the warmth right out of the ozone. When you sign up to coach in the National Football League you don’t expect a bunch of lawyers in New York deciding not to heat your practice bubble.”
In fairness, some hard questions probably still need to be answered.
●Do I feel bad for the players who never had a say in their bosses’ clumsy decision to gamble future free agent dollars away? Yes.
●If the NFL’s oversight body was under the auspices of federal or state law — and not a private company of billionaires — would the team have a much better chance of legal recourse? Sure. But that’s the same consequence of self-governance many Fortune 500 companies abide by.
●Were the penalties somewhat arbitrary, subjective and harsh? Yes.
●More important: Were they warranted?
Reality Refresher II: In 2010 the team employed a deceptive loophole that allowed them to distribute all of Albert Haynesworth’s $21 million signing bonus and make it count against the 2010 salary cap, instead of rationing it over the length of his deal. This is doable in years the NFL imposes a salary cap. But it was forbidden that particular year, when the Redskins used it to create future flexibility, so they could spend like crazy in a year they happened to acquire Griffin.
Hall’s deal was similarly front-loaded, and suddenly a roughly $142 million payroll became $170 million, enabling the team to reap the benefits of more than $30 million as soon as the new collective bargaining agreement was signed between owners and players — far exceeding other team’s ability to spend.
Look, when rules aren’t merely bent but all but obliterated, something had to be done. That’s the reason they can’t afford to procure the talent upgrade they want at significant positions until next offseason. All the legalese and semantics won’t change that.
Add Haynesworth’s $21 million and Hall’s $15 million signing bonus and you get the $36 million penalty levied by the NFL. Giving D. Hall and the Round Mound of Facedown all those millions up front caused this predicament.
It’s fitting in a karmic way: The reverberations of Snyder’s unchecked shopping addiction over the years, which culminated in the just-past-midnight flight to wine and dine Big Al — only the worst free agent signing in the history of the NFL — are keeping it from hitting the market this time around.
In Ashburn World, this is a “travesty of fairness.” In real world, it’s called paying the piper.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.