Con­tract hit: $36 mil­lion Salary-cap space shrinks be­cause of re­struc­tured deals

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY RICH CAMP­BELL

The Washington Red­skins, for years de­rided as cham­pi­ons of the off­sea­son, po­si­tioned them­selves Mon­day to le­git­imize that ti­tle in a salary-cap show­down with the NFL.

The league has pe­nal­ized the Red­skins a to­tal of $36 mil­lion in salary-cap space over the next two years for mov­ing ex­pen­sive con­tracts into the un­capped 2010 sea­son in an at­tempt to gain a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage, ac­cord­ing to a source with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion.

How­ever, the Red­skins in­sist they did noth­ing wrong and are pro­ceed­ing to­ward the start of free agency and the new league year Tues­day af­ter­noon as if there were no penalty. This could get very in­ter­est­ing. “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,” Red­skins gen­eral man­ager Bruce Allen said in a state­ment.

A salary-cap penalty could hin­der the Red­skins’ plan to for­tify their ros­ter this off­sea­son. They can choose how they pro­rate the $36 mil­lion penalty over 2012 and 2013, a league source said. How­ever, Washington has not been in­formed in writ­ing of its ad­justed 2012 salary cap, Allen stated Mon­day night.

The Red­skins en­tered last week­end with ap­prox­i­mately $40 mil­lion of 2012 salary cap space. Such fi­nan­cial flex­i­bil­ity would help them ad­dress sev­eral needs in free agency.

Adding a premier wide re­ceiver, of­fen­sive line­men and de­fen­sive backs would help them with­stand the net loss of the two first-round draft picks and sec­ond-rounder they re­cently agreed to trade to St. Louis for the sec­ond-over­all se­lec­tion in the 2012 draft.

It’s part of a mas­ter plan the Red­skins in­tend to ex­e­cute in the face of the $36 mil­lion salary cap penalty.

“We look for­ward to free agency, the draft and the com­ing foot­ball sea­son,” Allen stated.

The Red­skins’ penalty is part of an agree­ment reached Satur­day be­tween the league and NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. The union, there­fore, will not ap­peal it, a source said.

The Red­skins in 2010 re­struc­tured Al­bert Haynesworth’s and Dean­gelo Hall’s con­tracts to in­clude $36 mil­lion of bonus money in the un­capped sea­son, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Foot­ball Post.

The NFL Man­age­ment Coun­cil Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee “de­ter­mined that the con­tract prac­tices of a small num­ber of clubs dur­ing the 2010 league year cre­ated an un­ac­cept­able risk to fu­ture com­pet­i­tive bal­ance, par­tic­u­larly in light of the rel­a­tively mod­est salary-cap growth pro­jected for the new agree­ment’s early years,” the league said in a state­ment.

The league’s retroac­tive con­dem­na­tion of those con­tract prac­tices os­ten­si­bly con­tra­dicts its decision to ap­prove them at the time.

The league con­firmed it reached an agree­ment with the union, but the terms were not dis­closed. A union spokesman did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a re­quest for com­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to a source, own­ers were dis­pleased by how the Red­skins and Dal­las Cow­boys re­struc­tured con­tracts to dump salary into the un­capped 2010 sea­son de­spite the fact nei­ther team was found to have vi­o­lated the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment.

Own­ers would not set the 2012 salary cap and move for­ward into the new league year un­til the union agreed to one of two op­tions: ei­ther a lower salary cap in 2012 than in 2011, or salary cap penal­ties against the Red­skins and Cow­boys, with that cap space dis­trib­uted equally among 28 other clubs.

Be­cause the NFLPA rep­re­sents play­ers em­ployed by all teams, not just the Red­skins or Cow­boys, it agreed to the op­tion that pays the most money to play­ers through­out the league, even though that came at the ex­pense of Washington and Dal­las.

“To rem­edy these ef­fects and pre­serve com­pet­i­tive bal­ance through­out the league, the par­ties to the CBA agreed to ad­just­ments to team salary for the 2012 and 2013 sea­sons,” the league said in a state­ment. “These agreed-upon ad­just­ments were struc­tured in a man­ner that will not af­fect the salary cap or player spend­ing on a league-wide ba­sis.”

The Cow­boys have been pe­nal­ized $10 mil­lion in cap space. In a rare show of sol­i­dar­ity with the archri­val Red­skins, they re­leased a sim­i­lar state­ment Mon­day night de­fend­ing their con­tract ma­neu­vers in 2010.

The agree­ment be­tween the league and union es­tab­lished the 2012 salary cap at $120.6 mil­lion, a slight in­crease from 2011. It es­tab­lished an ad­di­tional $7 mil­lion in player ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing per­for­mance-based com­pen­sa­tion.

While the Red­skins’ salary cap sit­u­a­tion was un­der at­tack Mon­day, they cleared ap­prox­i­mately $5 mil­lion by re­leas­ing safety Osh­iomogho Atogwe and full­back Mike Sellers

Re­leas­ing Atogwe saves Washington $3.4 mil­lion in 2012, and he will not ac­count for any dead money, ac­cord­ing to a source with knowl­edge of his deal.

Atogwe, 30, failed dur­ing his only sea­son with the Red­skins to live up to his rep­u­ta­tion as a ball hawk who con­sis­tently forces turnovers. The sev­enyear veteran was slowed by ham­string and knee in­juries. He lacked ex­plo­sive­ness in chang­ing di­rec­tions and in mak­ing plays on the ball. He had three in­ter­cep­tions in 13 games (eight starts).

Sellers, 36, lost his start­ing job to Dar­rel Young last sea­son and played mostly on spe­cial teams. The 12-year veteran was sched­uled to make a base salary of $1.05 mil­lion in 2012.

The Mary­land women’s bas­ket­ball team sat glued to the tele­vi­sion in the corner of Her­itage Hall at Com­cast Cen­ter wait­ing for the an­nounce­ment.

A few fans and fam­ily mem­bers broke out into a “Red-white. Red-white” chant, but then as the NCAA women’s bracket was un­veiled, the cheers turned to “shhh’s,” like fam­ily mem­bers gath­ered for movie night.

Then came the mo­ment all had waited for: Mary­land will be the No. 2 seed in the Raleigh re­gion of the NCAA tour­na­ment. It will play its first game Satur­day at home against No. 15 seed Navy. Should Mary­land ad­vance, the Ter­rap­ins will play March 19 against the win­ner of Louisville/michi­gan State.

Af­ter the an­nounce­ment that Mary­land had made the tour­na­ment for the eighth time in the past 10 years, the room erupted with peo­ple wav­ing tow­els and soon an­other cheer: “We are . . . Mary­land.”

But for the play­ers sit­ting at the front of the room, nei­ther ral­ly­ing cry ac­cu­rately sums up its sea­son. In­stead, they wore black T-shirts with the slo­gans, “Fight to Fin­ish” on the back and “12 Strong” on the front.

“‘Fight to Fin­ish’ was kind of our theme go­ing into this sea­son,” coach Brenda Frese said. “We felt like a year ago there were a lot of things we didn’t fin­ish: games, the ACC tour­na­ment, the NCAAS. We talked about our theme this year needed to be fight to fin­ish, and that kind of was our mantra go­ing in.”

Play­ing with­out a se­nior last sea­son, the Terps fell at home to Ge­orge­town in the sec­ond round of the tour­na­ment. Frese said the team lacked a “sense of ur­gency” that comes from hav­ing up­per­class­men.

“We learned you can’t take any­thing for granted,” Frese said. “Just play­ing at home doesn’t guar­an­tee an au­to­matic to Raleigh. It’s one and done.”

Said sopho­more guard Lau­rin Mincy: “[Last year’s loss] taught us to fight to fin­ish. We all col­lec­tively think we gave up. But this year, we’re go­ing out there 12 strong and we’re go­ing to fight to fin­ish.”

This sea­son, Mary­land (28-4, 12-4 ACC) claimed the two seed thanks to a strong late sea­son push and a se­v­engame win streak dat­ing to mid Fe­bru­ary. The streak in­cludes the ACC tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship, but the Terps are quick to point out that the ti­tle is not the end goal.

Fans posed for pic­tures around the ACC tro­phy at an­other corner of the room. But af­ter the seed­ing was an­nounced, the tro­phy was pushed aside as if to say the Terps were on to big­ger things.

“We did a lit­tle bit by win­ning the ACC tour­na­ment,” sec­ond-team Al­lACC for­ward Tianna Hawkins said. “But peo­ple are still doubt­ing us, and we still have to work day in and day out.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

De­fen­sive tackle Al­bert Haynesworth was a her­alded free agent when he joined Washington in 2009. The sign­ing may go down as the worst in fran­chise his­tory. Cor­ner­back Dean­gelo Hall’s (left) deal also was re­struc­tured to in­clude bonus money in 2010, an un­capped sea­son.

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