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NFL Arbitrator Upholds Cap Penalties Against Cowboys, Redskins

May 23, 2012

The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys were stripped of a combined $46 million in salary cap space over the next two years by the National Football League after an independent arbitrator dismissed the teams’ appeal.

The NFL said the teams gained a competitive advantage by front-loading contracts during the 2010 season, when the league didn’t have a salary cap, to clear space for future spending.

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank upheld the penalties yesterday after considering the teams’ appeal, saying the March 27 resolution became an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement when the players’ union signed off on it. The Redskins lose $18 million in salary cap space each of the next two years, while the Cowboys give up $5 million each season.

“We pursued our salary cap claim pursuant to the CBA and we respect and will abide by the arbitrator’s decision to dismiss,” the Redskins and Cowboys said in an e-mailed joint statement. “We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.”

The Redskins and Cowboys are the NFL’s two most valuable franchises, according to Forbes’s team rankings.

The New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders are the only other teams that won’t get a share of the $46 million in cap space taken from the Redskins and Cowboys due to similar minor violations. The other 28 teams will get an added $1.6 million in salary space to use over the next two years.

The NFL’s player payroll limit for each team was originally set at $120.6 million for the 2012 season.

The NFL didn’t have a salary cap during the 2010 season after the league’s labor contract expired. Without a salary cap, the Redskins and Cowboys paid money to some players in 2010 that normally would have been spread out over the length of their contracts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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