Rick Snider: Time for the Redskins to cap their losses

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It was an unrepentant surrender.

The Washington Redskins essentially conceded they will suffer through an $18 million salary cap hit for the second straight year when NFL free agency begins Tuesday.

General manager Bruce Allen delivered a good defense Monday. Why, late attorney Johnnie Cochran wouldn't have given a better declaration that the Redskins were innocent of breaking some double-secret probation rule among NFL owners for salary dumping during a supposed uncapped year in 2010.

Why, the Redskins couldn't have committed any crime, Cochran would have said. They were in church that day. And besides, if the helmet doesn't fit, you must acquit.

The Redskins are trying to look like good guys unfairly wronged. Allen said the team never violated any rules, that all contracts were reviewed and approved by the league. The team was never warned about its supposed misdoing.

Allen said the team won't sue but said he has a few unspecified options left to fight the good fight. But really, the Redskins' only option was a lawsuit bluff. It was a trial balloon that became a lead balloon. The move was worth trying; maybe they could regain some salary cap money for good behavior without burdening the league with a suit. But it didn't work.

This whole thing stinks, and so far the Redskins have lost their best secondary player in DeAngelo Hall, who was released as part of a salary sanction that coach Mike Shanahan said would cost any team six to eight players.

Did the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys break some unspoken rule about salary dumping? Is such a rule even possible given it's not a formal declaration? This is what K Street lawyers who make $500 per hour ponder.

It's funny how New York Giants owner John Mara led the move to penalize two clubs in his division. As if there's no competitive incentive there. The Redskins probably will lose free agent tight end Fred Davis as well. That's a big hit. Plus, there's no chance of upgrading much through free agency.

The 2013 season largely centers on the health of Robert Griffin III. Shanahan admitted he will have no idea whether the quarterback will be ready until training camp begins. He said Griffin is rehabbing his knee better than expected, but until the passer is on the field for a few days and there's no swelling in the morning, there's no way to know.

If Griffin plays most of the season, Washington has a fair chance of repeating as NFC East champion. Certainly the sanctions don't help, but Washington won last year without a Pro Bowl player at every position and with Davis missing the final nine games. The cap delays the chances for a serious Super Bowl run, though.

The Redskins probably were sanctioned too harshly. The NFL should have reduced the penalty. But owner Dan Snyder has few friends around the league after his past wild spending on free agents and coaches cost competitors big money to match. This was Mara and Co.'s chance for revenge, and they took it.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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