According to a recent series of tweets by the National Football Post's Andrew Brandt, the other NFL "owners were furious" when the Cowboys paid Miles Austin a $17M salary in 2010, which wasn't prorated. That's a nice way of saying the owners threw a hissy fit and wanted payback.
Brandt also points out that contrary to reports saying that teams were warned "at least six times" about not dumping salary in an uncapped year, no written warnings about loading up in an uncapped year were ever issued. Additionally, Brandt points out that the NFL initially approved the Austin contract:
All NFL contracts are approved by the NFL Management Council. Curious that there is now punishment for these contracts.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) March 12, 2012
Essentially, this looks like the other owners are getting back at Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder for spending more than the other 30 owners were willing to spend. And the NFLPA sits idly by.
Regardless, all is not lost for the Cowboys. The Cowboys can move the $10 million penalty in full or in part into 2013, when a large chunk of dead money from this year is coming off the books anyway. Also, the Cowboys still have a number of avenues to create cap space this year:
- Cutting Terence Newman is now less of an option and more of a necessity. Cap savings: $ 6 million.
- Per ESPNDallas, restructuring the deals of Dez Bryant, DeMarcus Ware, Orlando Scandrick and Doug Free will also help. Cap savings: nearly $13 million.
- Releasing Kenyon Coleman ($1.9 million) and David Buehler ($1.26 million), and perhaps some other players, frees up some more money: Cap savings: at least $3.16 million.
Total savings with these moves tops $20 million, which should still allow the Cowboys to be active in free agency this year, and perhaps already account for part of the $10 million penalty the other owners managed to hustle out of Jerry Jones.
In the meantime, the Cowboys shrug and move on. Free agency starts tomorrow and the Cowboys have some acquisitions to make.