Dan Graziano eloquently sums up the NFL’s shameful actions in penalizing the Cowboys and Redskins

Today, an arbitrator rejected the Cowboys’ and Redskins’ challenge on the decision to strip them of a combined $46 million in salary cap space.  ESPN’s Dan Graziano’s article on the ridiculousness of the whole thing is so good, it gets a post solely dedicated to passing you along to it.

I have nothing to add.


  1. bdawk4ever says:

    I have no problem with it. They violated a rule and they should be punished. End of story.

  2. Roy says:

    Thank you Jimmy for being a voice of reason on this issue.

  3. WeGotLinemen says:

    Julius Peppers “cap hit” in the uncapped year, approximately $35m. They gave him a salary of $20m. That’s higher than the current of previous franchise numbers for a QB. They gave him an un-prorated bonus of around $14m.

    Even in the last year of his contract, 2015, when his cap hit hit’s it’s second highest level, it will still be $16m fewer than it would have been in 2010. Yet apparently only two teams took advantage of the uncapped year.

    1. Roy says:

      “Yet apparently only two teams took advantage of the uncapped year.”

      Yeah. The two that just happen to play in Mara’s division — the NFC East. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

      1. ProtoTyler says:

        Bears would have still been very near the cap if there was one, the year they signed peppers.

        Skins spent 178M in 2010
        Cowboys spent 166.5M in 2010

        For comparison’s sake:

        Bears ~132M
        Eagles 131M
        Giants 128.6M

        Cry “its BS” “Collusion” all you want. Maybe it is, but there is no way they were getting away with that.

        1. Roy says:

          “Bears would have still been very near the cap if there was one…”

          “If there was one” being the key words here. But it seems this argument is circular.

          1. Ty says:

            It’s VERY difficult to argue that not having to distribute ~45M extra doesn’t give you an advantage.

            1. Mike says:

              It’s even more difficult to argue that agreeing to impose a limit on spending isn’t outright illegal, Ty.

              Seriously, the ONLY reason there was a freaking advantage to be had is because the owners signed off on an uncapped year in the previous CBA. Stop pretending that the Cowboys and Redskins broke some rule, or that they cheated. Every single fucking team in the NFL could have done the same exact thing. In fact, not doing so was downright stupid, and they only reason that they DIDN’T do so, was because they were adhering to a secretly mandated cap.

              Saying that the Cowboys and Redskins gained an advantage is like arguing that when I roll a 12 in Monopoly, I should only move 8 because that’s what you want. The only person stopping you from moving 12 is you.

              1. ProtoTyler says:

                Current pending lawsuit by the NFLPA states that the Redskins “cap number” in the uncapped year was ~225M; nearly 50M more than any other team, including the the Cowboys who were next at around ~175M. The Skins consistently have top 2-3 revenue in the NFL (for some reason). So no, not every team is capable of spending that much. If your argument is that all teams could have spent 225M, then you are mistaken.

              2. ProtoTyler says:

                Cowboys, Redskins and the Raiders(Al Davis version), all consistently overpay and spend gobs of money, which is fine. They can spend whatever they want, however they want. It is simply not in a lot of the other teams nature to spend like the those teams did. What business owners do you know that spend money that they don’t have to? These owners wouldn’t be billionaires if they were stupid about money. That’s certainly not to say that Jerry and Dan are stupid, but their nature is that of spenders/risk takers. It never occurred to anyone that many of the owners weren’t going to spend anyway, regardless of if there was a handshake agreement?

              3. Steve D. says:

                Tyler, that is the point of the salary cap which is negotiated in the CBA. The NFL has no right to impose a salary cap unless it is negotiated in the CBA. The reason the last CBA had an uncapped year was supposed to be a deterent to ecourage the owners to negotiate a new CBA prior to the old CBA expiring (the move of free angency from 4 to 6 years was the deterent for the players). The situation you described (where one team could outspend other teams) was the exact point of having an uncapped year. An agreement by the teams to impose a cap in a specified uncapped year in the CBA (even if motivated by preserving competitive balance) was a violation of the CBA and illegal collusion under antitrust laws.

              4. ProtoTyler says:

                Only illegal if they can prove it. Again, just because it was uncapped doesn’t mean the owners had to spend. And with the prime guys being RFAs til year 6, what real incentive was there to get the CBA done? Owners won just about every point they really wanted in the new CBA, and they will likely win this in court as well. Not saying its right or fair, just how it seems to be.

              5. Mike says:

                In what world is that applicable or even the right way to address what we’re talking about.

                Nobody is saying that teams HAD to spend. What the NFL is saying is that they COULDN’T spend. I’m not sure how the term “uncapped year” isn’t clear. As to your point about there being no rush to get the deal done…that’s why the NFLPA wanted a freaking uncapped year! If the NFL didn’t want teams to be able to spend as much as they wanted/could then they shouldn’t have negotiated in an uncapped year.

                Sorry, but you’ve got absolutely no argument beyond “well…it wasn’t fair enough, and they didn’t all want to spend the same way”.

                Owners not wanting to spend has nothing to do with this. Owners being punished for spending in the manner that they wanted to, while violating absolutely no salary rules, then being punished is what this is all about.

  4. ct17 says:

    The thing is that 30 other teams abided by the handshake agreement. Giants could have saved a lot of money by fixing Canty’s big contract the same way as Austin’s.

    I don’t care if the rule is written or not. Men keep their word.

    1. Mike says:

      The thing is, 30 other teams agreed with the NFLPA that 2010 would be an uncapped year.

      Well, probably not 30, but the league passed the CBA, which installed the uncapped year. Which is why there had to be a “handshake agreement”, and not an actual league rule.

      Seriously, is it that hard to see that?

      1. Steve D. says:

        What Mike said is exactly right. It is illegal under antitrust laws for the teams in the NFL to make any “handshake agreements” outside of the CBA regarding how much the players can be payed or how the teams can structure the contracts. Although the union could not prove it, collusion between the teams in the uncapped year is specifically one of things the union sued the NFL over in the anitrust lawsuit during the lockout. That is why the NFL kept this “handshake agreement” very quiet until after the union settled the lawsuit with the signing of the new CBA. The NFL is lucky that Jones and Snyder don’t sue the NFL for antitrust violations like Al Davis did previously.

  5. Tracer Bullet says:

    I’m really torn here. I hate to see this kind of bullshit go on, but I love seeing the Cowboys and Redskins getting screwed.

    1. brisulph says:

      Have to agree there.

    2. Roy says:

      “I’m really torn here. I hate to see this kind of bullshit go on, but I love seeing the Cowboys and Redskins getting screwed.”

      You just summed up perfectly the psychological basis for most of the comments here. Giants and Eagles fans who can’t get past their hatred for a division rival tend to justify the cap penalties by any means (see Joe d above), including just tossing out names like “douche” at Snyder and Jones.

      The sobering fact is that if the NFL can pull this garbage with the Skins and Cowboys, they can do it to any team. So sleep soundly knowing that.

  6. Crash says:

    I’d heard this whole thing was started because AJ Smith was complaining about the fact that since the Cowboys paid Miles Austin a $17m base salary in the 2010 season, it raised the franchise tag number for wide receiver so he couldn’t franchise tag Vincent Jackson for perpetuity.

    It definitely seems more a vindictive measure than a “competitive balance” issue.

    1. Anders says:

      One can argue that the Chargers lost Jackson because of the insane franchise tag based on the crazy money Austin got in 2010.

      Also Graziano writes it him self that the NFL is essential a legal form of a Cartel and the CBA is a legal form of collusion.

  7. joe d says:

    I love in the comments section all the goodell conspiracy theorists are coming out into the wood work. The same guys who will blame godell for former players offing themselves will say goddell is turning the league into a pussy league… I dont know why people have such a boner for goodell , i guess it’s paralleled to teen angst being against all authority or something…the guy is in a rough spot and afterall we are still getting quality football on sundays…

    1. I, for one, have little problem with some of the measures to make the game safer. I could do without some of the utterly ridiculous roughing the QB calls, and I’d prefer a more specific set of rules for what is and isn’t a legal hit on a receiver, but those things don’t even have much to do with Goodell. So we agree there.

      However, Goodell has been atrocious on many other issues, and is has absolutely nothing to do with “teen angst.” You make the point that the game of football remains awesome, but that has zero to do with Goodell.

      1. Crash says:

        What issues do you think Goodell has been atrocious on? Not challenging, just wondering. Player discipline? Saints bounty controversy? This salary cap thing?

        With regard to this, I haven’t really seen Goodell get all that involved personally. I think it was the owners, and Goodell’s hands are tied even if he wanted to do anything.

        1. Wrote this 15 months ago:


          It’s mostly about the 18 game schedule and Goodell’s penchant for lying while still telling the truth, but I get into some of my other gripes toward the end of the article.

          And this was before the awfulness of the lockout, and the other things you mentioned, like confusing player punishment, the absence of disclosing discovery on the bounty stuff, the salary cap penalty nonsense etc etc.

          He’s a politician. And a bad one.

  8. ProtoTyler says:

    I have a hard time feeling like it was uncalled for. Skins and Boys players both got their $$ anyway, so the only ones penalized were the owners. For the cap to be what it was this year, money had to be borrowed from future years. I just look at it as Jerrah and Danny borrowed from 2012-13 cap to pay their guys in 2010. What’s the difference?

    1. Crash says:

      Why would you need to borrow future cap money for an uncapped year?

      1. ProtoTyler says:

        I’m saying after the penalties, its basically what happened. Losing cap room this year to fund the expenditures in 2010. It was worse for the Skins than Dallas because Dallas wasn’t as bad about it. Just saying they didn’t pull the #s out of thin air.

  9. ICDogg says:

    I think it should not be ignored what the cap reduction was assessed for… and that is heavily dumping future salary hits from previously existing contracts into the “uncapped” year. It was not for writing any new, frontloaded contracts.

  10. joe d says:

    TERRIBLE article!!!!

    Rules are rules and I hate when people break a rule thinking that an exception should be made for them. The rule was clear, hey we’re not going to take advantage of an uncapped year… Two teams do it anyway and now its absurd that they got punished for it?

    The players union’s job is to get as much money outta the owners as possible, and the owners are going to try and get as much money as possible.. The goal is to meet in the middle, which I think MOST people would agree happened ………ie they agreed not to play an extended season and the owners setup health benefits for departed nfl players, etc… BOTH parties are going to play some dirty tricks.

    But the bottom line the redskins and cowboys decided they werent playing along and both owners are fucking morons and douches and they deserved a stiff penalty.

    1. They didn’t break any rules.

      1. ICDogg says:

        It wasn’t a “penalty”, either, but an ‘adjustment”

        1. Potato potahto. Whatever is was, it was BS. And they imposed it the day before free agency started.

          1. ICDogg says:

            They weren’t fined, didn’t give up any draft picks, just had to give back the cap room they should not have had.


            1. I disagree with your phrasing here:

              “the cap room they should not have had.”

              1. ICDogg says:

                Which is fine… but 29 out of 32 owners did not agree with you.

              2. Well, yeah, but those are the very people that Graziano is slamming in the first place.

              3. ICDogg says:

                Graziano says

                This all started because NFL owners agreed, in secret, to limit spending in 2010 even though there was no cap — to continue to structure contracts as though there were a cap, because the lockout they were about to impose was basically a thinly veiled attempt at union-busting.

                But this is not a correct premise. The NFL owners did not agree to limit spending in 2010. What they warned other owners not to do was to take advantage of the uncapped status of the year to dump the remaining years of bad contracts.

                Because that affected years beyond 2010 which everyone knew were going to be capped.

                They believed that to do this was an anticompetitive practice.

              4. Mike says:

                Which is NOT what the Cowboys/Redskins were “fined/adjusted (however the hell you want to phrase it)” for. They got smacked for supposedly front loading the contracts of Miles Austin, Albert Haynesworth, and Deangelo Hall into the 2010 season. Which, it’s funny that only Mara’s division rivals got nailed, because there are SEVERAL other examples of the same thing by other teams.

                For example, why don’t you check out how much of Julius Pepper’s $84 million went into 2010. For those of you playing at home, that would be $35 million cap hit, due mostly to a $20 million salary.

                Beyond that…it was an uncapped year. I don’t care what arguments you want to make, the bottom line is that if ANYTHING in this mess is “breaking the rules” it’s negotiating an uncapped year in 2010, and then limiting spending in the same season.

        2. joe d says:

          hah well played

      2. Frank says:

        The owners colluded together to create a new rule. You can certainly argue that they shouldn’t have done that, but the Cowboys and Redskins did violate it.

        And if you say that, what about the other 30 teams who could have gained an advantage from the uncapped year too? They just get screwed?

        You’re arguing that the NFL just punished 2 teams unfairly. But if they didn’t do that, then 30 teams got punished instead.

        1. They didn’t break any rules because there were no rules.

          1. Frank says:

            Fine, so assuming there was no rule, is it fair that 2 teams took advantage of it, but 30 others did not(because the league wrongly said there was a rule)? Those teams get punished because they followed what the league said?

            1. I’m not following how the other 30 teams would have been “punished.”

              1. Frank says:

                They’re punished because they believed the league when the league said “Don’t use the uncapped year to dump salary or else…”

                If the league hadn’t said that, you don’t think they would have redone some contracts to give themselves more cap space in future years?

                At the time the uncapped year started, I kept thinking to myself that the Eagles FO was being really stupid for not renegotiating half the team’s salaries so everything but the league minimum was paid put for “free” on the uncapped year. I couldn’t understand it at all, it seemed like the obvious thing to do.

                After this issue came up, I finally understood, they were just following instructions from the league. But the Redskins and Cowboys didn’t follow those instructions. If you suddenly decide that those instructions were bad and the Redskins and Cowboys were fine to ignore them, then you’ve just screwed over the other 30 teams because they didn’t think they had that same opportunity.

              2. ICDogg says:

                The NFL claimed the teams gained competitive advantage by maneuvering cap money into the uncapped 2010 year, clearing the deck for future spending without encumbrances from bloated contracts of Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall, Miles Austin and others.

              3. Mike says:

                I am so utterly sick of hearing that tired argument, Frank.

                If the league wanted to control spending for 2010, then you know what…they shouldn’t have negotiated a fucking uncapped year in 2010 into their CBA.

                Sit there and pretend that other teams would have gotten “punished” for playing by the “rules”, but the ONLY reason they would have gotten punished is because they didn’t have any intention of ensuring that 2010 was actually an uncapped season.

                It’s called collusion people. You CAN’T just negotiate between a union for one thing, then actively agree among management that you won’t actually abide by what you just agreed to. So seriously, it’s time to knock it off to the agreement crap. There was a reason that they weren’t given documented warnings, and why the league didn’t come out in 2010 with these rules in public.

          2. ProtoTyler says:

            It also stands to reason that even without rules teams weren’t going to overspend just because they could.

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