'Informal' cap penalty appeal unlikely to succeed

'Informal' cap penalty appeal unlikely to succeed
February 25, 2013, 12:00 pm
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It looks like the Redskins’ effort to get their $18 million salary cap penalty overturned has come down to saying, “pretty please”.

According to Mark Maske of the Post, the only avenue that appears to be open to the Redskins is an “informal” appeal. Maske cited a person with knowledge of the case for his report.

The $36 million cap penalty was imposed by the league on the eve of the start of free agency last year for supposedly trying to gain a competitive advantage by restructuring some contracts during the uncapped 2010. They absorbed $18 million of it last year and although most observers believe that the penalty was arbitrary and unfair the penalty was upheld by a special master.

Following an unsuccessful appeal, the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, who were hit with a $10 million cap penalty over two years, issued the following joint statement last May 22:

“We pursued our salary cap claim pursuant to the CBA and we respect and will abide by the arbitrator's decision to dismiss. We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.”

That was thought to be the end of that until Mike Shanahan gave a cryptic answer to a question about the issue at his end-of-season press conference on Jan. 7. “Well, I can’t answer that at this time so that means we’re still involved in it,” he said. “Yes, we’re still involved in it. When I can speak about it, I will speak. But at this time, I can’t. I think that answers your question.” 

Bruce Allen gave a similar answer at a team function in Richmond on Feb. 14. But this latest report makes the chances of anything being done to give the Redskins all or part of their cap space back seem remote at best. There are just too many hurdles to clear.

It is likely that any move to change the penalty would need to have the approval of three fourths of the league’s owners meaning that nine votes could block it. One would think that it would be fairly easy for Giants owner John Mara, the driving force behind the sanctions that directly benefitted his team, to round up the eight other votes to maintain the penalty.

Another complication would be where the money would come from. When the league and the players’ association agreed to penalize the Redskins and Cowboys, the cap money taken away from was distributed to the caps of 28 of the other 30 teams. Would the other teams have to lose cap space if the Redskins regained theirs? That would make any recovery by the Redskins a nonstarter.

So while the Redskins work the phones and otherwise attempt to schmooze their way to getting some cap space back, fans should not expect success. If you want to hold out some hope, fine but be very prepared for the worst.