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