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Appeal Of Salary Cap Penalties By Redskins, Cowboys Dismissed

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 5/22/12, 12:39 p.m.; Updated 5/22/12, 2:28 p.m.)

The appeal made by the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys to an arbitrator to overturn a $36 million salary cap penalty was dismissed, the NFL announced Tuesday.

Stephen Burbank, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who serves as the league’s acting system arbiter, ruled in a 12-page summary that because the league and NFL Players’ Association agreed upon the sanctions, the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys have no basis for a challenge, according to reports.

Representatives from both teams met with Burbank in Philadelphia for over two hours on May 10 regarding the penalty, which was levied against the teams by the league on March 12 – one day before free agency was set to begin.

“We pursued our salary cap claim pursuant to the [collective bargaining agreement] and we respect and will abide by the arbitrator’s decision to dismiss,” read a statement jointly released by the teams Tuesday afternoon. “We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.”

The Redskins, who figured to have approximately $31 million available to spend on free agents, instead were docked half that sum – $18 million – and were forced to creatively word contracts with their top targets in order to sign players. The other $18 million will be charged next offseason.

The teams were jointly challenging sanctions imposed against them by the league for circumventing recommendations regarding the structures of contracts in 2010, when the league did not have a salary cap.

Washington front-loaded contracts for cornerback DeAngelo Hall and former defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, paying them the combined $36 million in bonuses up front so they would not have to pay them in future years and be allowed more flexibility when the salary cap returned. Dallas similarly paid a $10 million bonus to receiver Miles Austin; the money was then redistributed to 28 other teams.

The Redskins and Cowboys claimed that because there was no salary cap that year and the league approved the contracts in question, it could not retroactively rule those contracts were illegal.

Jeff Pash, the league’s general counsel, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at a meeting of team owners in Atlanta.

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