Hot on the heels of sending
multiple first-round and other picks to the Rams for the second overall
selection in April's draft -- or essentially the rights to Robert
Griffin III -- the Redskins were preparing to go on a shopping spree
when free agency opened at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Among the items believed to
be on the list: Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Cortland Finnegan.
They'll have to cross some of those names out.
NFL imposed salary-cap penalties on both the Skins and the Dallas
Cowboys for front-loading contracts during the 2010 uncapped season, a
maneuver the league may have specifically warned teams not to use. As a
result of their disobedience, the Cowboys will have $10 million less to work with, while the Redskins were tagged with a shocking $36
million sanction, a figure that represents roughly one-third of the estimated $120 million cap for
cap space will be redistributed across the league, handing the Eagles
and another 27 clubs an additional $1.6 million in spending money.
penalties reflect the front-loaded amounts in the bad contracts,
primarily Miles Austin's extension with Dallas, and Albert Haynesworth's
mega-deal with Washington.
the act of "front-loading" a contract means a front office positioned a
bonus or an abnormally large portion of a player's salary during the
uncapped year in exchange for lower figures in future years once the cap
returned. It wasn't expressly against the rules, but apparently the
league informed teams not to do this.
The only bit of good news for the offenders is they can spread the penalty over the next two seasons however they see fit.
$10 mil certainly squeezes the Cowboys, $36 puts the Redskins in a
serious bind. Their roster was thin enough as it stands, and the
franchise mortgaged the future to land the two pick so they could start
building around Griffin. Their front office will have to get creative to
land even one top-tier free agent this year, let alone sign multiple
As for the Eagles, $1.6 mil probably doesn't make
an overwhelming difference, but it's still more than they had, and
could help create some breathing room. More importantly, it weakens a
division rival, and potentially cripples another -- especially if
Griffin doesn't pan out in that dysfunctional franchise.