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SALARY CAP: Rogue owners prove costly for Ravens

Salary Cap SALARY CAP: Rogue owners prove costly for Ravens

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Earlier today, Special Arbitrator Stephen Burbank dismissed the appeal filed by the Redskins and Cowboys regarding the Cap penalties imposed by the league for their violation of the spirit of the Uncapped Year rules.  It has now been announced, via a joint statement from the Redskins and Cowboys that the teams are conceding the issue and will not pursue any other remedies that they may have. 

So, that ends it.   

The Redskins were docked $36M for restructuring the contracts of DT Albert Haynesworth and CB DeAngelo Hall and basically accelerating what would have been future Cap charges into the uncapped year of 2010.  While this seemed like a prudent maneuver at the time, it has now been disclosed that the league office had repeatedly warned the teams to not do so.   

OK, so why should the Ravens still be miffed? 

After all, didn’t they get an extra $1.643M in Salary Cap space for this year because of this? 

Yes, they did – but it is the $5.5M in Salary Cap space that they lost in 2011 because of what the Redskins did with Haynesworth’s contract that should still have them steamed.  Yes, the $1.643M adjustment this year is nice, but they really could have used that $5.5M last August. 

So what happened and what’s this lost $5.5M all about? 

Franchise Tag amounts are based on the prior year’s highest Salary Cap numbers by position. Therefore the Skins maneuver to accelerate $21M of Haynesworth’s deal into 2010 caused the Franchise Tag for Haloti Ngata to increase by a whopping $5.5M over what it would otherwise have been.  So, instead of having to carry Ngata at a Franchise Tag number of roughly $7M, the Ravens were, instead, charged $12.5M against the Salary Cap for Ngata. 

While the Ravens did eventually re-sign Ngata to a long-term deal, they were essentially hamstrung from late July to September, during which that extra $5.5M could really have come in handy and allowed them to sign an additional free agent or two.  Or, very possibly, could have allowed them to retain a player like Todd Heap, Derrick Mason or Kelly Gregg (although, it could be argued that this was a positive unintended consequence).   

This is a point that has been lost in a lot of the discussion about this issue.  From this vantage point, it seems that the league wasn’t as worried about teams using the Uncapped Year for their own benefit, but was more worried about the consequences that it would have on other teams because of the way many of the Salary Cap rules work. 

As an aside, the League based their position on this issue on the fact that teams were warned – apparently repeatedly – to not do what the Redskins and Cowboys (and apparently to a lesser extent, Saints and Raiders) ended up doing.  They were also warned that ignoring the League’s directive would have possible future implications. 

This was a warning that the Ravens obviously abided by because they could have (and were urged to do so repeatedly in this column) used the Uncapped Year to release Willis McGahee and take advantage of the fact that there was no Salary Cap.  Instead, the Ravens held on to McGahee and had to account for $6.25M in dead Salary Cap space in 2011 and 2012.  While that didn’t seem prudent at the time – and were taken to task in this column for not doing so – it is now apparent why the Ravens didn’t do so. 

They were simply following the directive of the league. 

This, too, probably made the Ravens even more eager to see the Redskins and Cowboys penalized.

 

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Brian McFarland

About Brian McFarland

Known on Ravens Message Boards as "B-more Ravor", Brian is a life-long Baltimorean and an avid fan of the Ravens and all Baltimore sports.  A PSL holder since 1998, Brian has garnered a reputation as a cap-guru because of his strange (actually warped) desire to wade through the intricacies of the NFL's salary cap and actually make sense of it for those of us who view it as inviting as IRS Tax Code.      Brian, who hails from Catonsville, MD and still resides there, is married and has two children. More from Brian McFarland

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