Redskins' battle over salary cap penalties all but over now

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen still unhappy but accept their fate

ASHBURN -- Redskins coach Mike Shanahan remained optimistic that something would change. Somehow, the organization would recoup the lost salary cap space. But reality overcame optimism. And the Redskins know they must accept their fate when it comes to the cap.

They said they still will try to fight the NFL's penalty, which removed $36 million of cap space for how the Redskins handled the uncapped year of 2010. But they also have said all along they would not discuss the matter until it was over. On Monday, a day before free agency began, they discussed the matter.

"I was really hoping in the last 24 hours we would get some good news from the NFL, that they'd look at our situation and possibly give us some cap back, but that did not happen," said Shanahan, also the team's executive vice president. "... I had a lot of hope we'd have money back because I don't think we did anything wrong."

The league disagreed, and Redskins general manager Bruce Allen made it clear he blames not only the NFL but the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA agreed to the penalty because the NFL promised to take the $36 million and spread it around to 28 other teams who weren't being penalized, whether in lost cap space or monetarily.

"We hold both sides accountable," Allen said. "It's unfortunate. ... The Redskins were never told or warned that the NFL and the NFLPA would reach an agreement two years later to punish us. Let me be crystal clear on this point."

Allen said they never contemplated filing a lawsuit against the NFL to fight the penalty, which the league said was made to prevent the Redskins getting a competitive advantage. But Allen said the Redskins did not gain an advantage; he said they would have ranked 18th in the league for cap space.

While both Shanahan and Allen said they would continue trying to seek ways to get the space back, Allen admitted it would be difficult.

"I don't know if there's anything to overturn," he said. "This is an agreement made between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. They agreed to this. As with any rule that is an agreement between the two, all teams have to abide by it."

But he did call the penalty a "travesty of fairness."

Shanahan said losing $18 million of space in each of the past two offseasons obviously has had a major impact.

"Anytime you take $36 million away from a team, you're dealing with anywhere from five to eight of the best players on the team," he said. "Obviously we were dealt a certain hand. We're going to deal with it."

To be active in free agency, the Redskins will have to cut more players or redo contracts, in some cases resulting in pay cuts.

"If you get too creative, it comes back to haunt you," Shanahan said. "We've been trying to do things the right way. ... We're not going to mortgage the future because of something that's been done to us today."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner