PALM BEACH, Fla. -- We're about an hour away from commissioner Roger Goodell's news conference here at the NFL owners meetings, but it doesn't look as though we're going to get much out of him on the issue of the salary cap penalties against the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. The NFL just put out a statement acknowledging that those two teams have challenged those penalties, and that arbitrator Stephen Burbank will preside over the arbitration hearing. This is the statement, in its entirety:
The Cowboys and Redskins have challenged the NFL's recent agreement with the NFL Players Association to set the salary cap for 2012 and to reallocate certain salary cap room from Dallas and Washington to 28 other clubs.
The reallocation aspect of the agreement is intended to address competitive issues from contract practices by those clubs in the 2010 League Year intended to avoid certain salary cap charges in 2011 and later years.
Under the agreement with the NFLPA, the two clubs will be charged a total of $46 million in cap room in the 2012 and 2013 seasons ($18 million per year for Washington; $5 million per year for Dallas). That room, instead, will be reallocated to 28 other clubs in the 2012 and 2013 season as determined by the Club. (The New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders, which engaged in similar contract practices at a far different level, will not receive any additional cap room. Those two clubs have not challenged the agreement with the NFLPA.)
The agreement will promote competitive balance without reducing the salary cap or player spending on a league-wide basis.
The arbitration will be heard by Professor Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania. No date has been set for a hearing. The clubs were advised of the status of the proceeding at today's league meeting. The NFL and Clubs will have no further comment at this time.
That last part indicates that Goodell does not intend to entertain questions on this issue at his news conference today. Which is a shame, since we're all still awaiting a full explanation of what exactly the Cowboys and Redskins did wrong.
Two other things that caught my eye:
1. The NFL's repeated referral to the punishments as an "agreement" with the NFLPA. It was, of course. The players' union agreed to the penalties after the league threatened to reduce this year's salary cap if they didn't. The fact that the NFLPA signed off on this is clearly part of the league's case here.
2. The line about "competitive balance" is disingenuous. Just because money is redistributed from the caps of the Redskins and Cowboys to other teams does not mean it will be spent. The league has taken money away from two teams that love to spend it and redistributed it among 28 other teams, many of which never spend to anywhere near the cap. So this surely isn't a perfect solution for the players -- just one into which the league was able to strong-arm the union.