Originally written on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 3/13/12

Yesterday, news broke that the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys would be docked millions of dollars in salary cap space over the next two seasons due to the way they structured contracts in the 2010 league year, which did not have a salary cap.  Additionally, the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders will be punished, although not as harshly.  Those two teams will merely unable to expand their salary cap as the other teams in the league will.  If this sounds the least bit fishy to you, that’s because it is.  What’s going on here is collusion, plain and simple.

Per Pro Football Talk, the owners were warned at least six times prior to the uncapped year to not use that season as a salary dumping ground.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the teams were told “at least six times” during ownership-level meetings that there would be “serious consequences” for any team that used the uncapped year as an occasion to dump salaries.

There’s a very obvious reason these warnings were given in owner level meetings, and not via official memoranda.  Such documents would likely be available to the NLFPA, and as labor negotiations were gearing up (and the NFLPA was already alleging collusion), this tangible evidence of collusion would be devastating to the league.  So instead, the league notified each team (and reminded them several times) to not engage in activity that would create salary cap room for subsequent seasons where a cap would be in place.  The net effect of this collusion would be to depress player salaries.  Lest you think that’s not a big deal, go ask any MLB owner their thoughts on the effects of collusion.  Additionally, the league approved the contracts submitted from these teams at the time so as not to tip their hand.  If a blatant salary dump contract (or restructuring) was rejected, it would certainly send up a red flag to the NFLPA, and it would be used as ammunition in the NFLPA’s collusion suit.

But where is the NFLPA in all of this?  For the moment, they stand mute.  Why is that?  The league raised the 2012 salary cap from $116 million to $120.6 million.  So for the moment, their silence on the issue is bought and paid for by the paltry sum of $128.8 million (when MLB settled their collusion case with the MLBPA in 1990, damages were paid out in the sum of $280 million, and led to the expansion of the league by four teams).

The Redskins and Cowboys have both issued statements that they complied with the rules during the uncapped year, and are preparing for the free agency period as per usual.  If the commissioner’s office plans on proceeding with the salary cap penalties, both organizations seem likely to contest the issue.  Quite simply, the fact that these teams are being punished for entering into contracts that were approved by the league office proves that there was a plan in place to control spending and player salaries.  And that is the very definition of collusion.

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