Cowboys Odds & Ends: Collusion Case Laid Bare

Love 'em or hate 'em, they'll spend money.

The Dallas Cowboys did a fine job of covering up the mess created by the NFL when the league took away $10 million in cap space (broken over two years); Stephen Jones masterfully re-worked the organization's finances and the Cowboys were able to do bang-up business in free agency. Still, the whole situation stinks. We've known the basics of the case for a while, the Cowboys and the Redskins spent "big" in the un-capped year, now the other owners are exacting revenge from the two teams for not engaging in what has no other name except collusion.

Somewhere along the way, the NFL got the NFLPA to go along with their punishment for the two franchises, something that seemed counter-intuitive. Why would the NFLPA go along with something that was nothing but an attempt by owners to keep salaries down? Because basically the NFLPA wanted the increased salary cap to approximately $120 million dollars, instead of what was rumored to be around $113 million.

I realize that none of this is news, we've re-hashed this quite a bit. But today I read an article by Jason Cole over at Yahoo that has a fascinating recap of what went down, including some quotes from unnamed players who basically say the whole thing stinks. And there wasn't much they could do about it.

However, sources on both sides say the union agreed to the penalties because it had little choice. "Why did we agree to it?" a former player said, rhetorically. "Because the league had us over a barrel. If we didn’t agree to the penalty for the Redskins and the Cowboys, the cap would have been $113 million, the players would have been [angry] and De[Maurice Smith] would have gotten fired.

"What the league is doing is collusion, plain and simple."

More...

So why were the other owners so anxious to punish the high-spending Cowboys and Redskins. Because contracts like the one the Cowboys gave Miles Austin drove up the price for franchise tags.

This year, the Chargers were faced with having to pay $13.7 million if they wanted to franchise [Vincent] Jackson again, and the team declined. Privately, the Chargers blamed Dallas over the Austin contract for causing San Diego to lose Jackson.

The more I read the article, the more I was disgusted with the other owners. While the Cowboys organization seems content to let it go, the Redskins, who received the much heavier punishment, aren't so willing to let by-gones be by-gones. They plan to bring it up at the owner meetings.

A source with knowledge of the situation says that the Redskins, via a strategy devised by G.M. Bruce Allen, currently plan to plead their case among the NFL’s movers and shakers at the league meetings in Florida next week, hopeful that some momentum can be built toward reversing the outcome.

I say good luck with that, but I do admire them for trying. The NFL and the owners basically screwed the Cowboys and the Redskins. And mostly they did it because Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder are willing to spend money

"If you give Kansas City or Cincinnati or San Diego an extra $1.6 million or $3 million or $5 million, who cares? They’re not going to spend it," an agent said. "When there was no cap and no spending floor, those teams didn’t pay anybody. They were way below the spending limits. If Washington and Dallas had the money, they’d spend it and the league knows it."

Anyway, while we've known the facts of the case for a while, if your interested in some of the seedy details, take a look at Cole's article.

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In other news, Dan Connor is fired-up about being a Cowboy. He said his eyes lit up when he heard the Cowboys were interested. He talked to Sean Lee and liked what he heard.

"[Lee] told me how much he loved all the coaches, the fans and the whole organization there," Connor said. "He said it's just a class operation. I could tell that too. From meeting everybody from Mr. Jones all the way down. There wasn't anybody who left a bad taste in my mouth. It was all great people so I'm looking forward to the move."

Connor's take on Jerry Jones?

"I don't know if you'll find a guy that wants his team to be better than he does," Connor said. "He's going to put everything he can into the team and get you whatever you need, bring in the guys you need to play at the highest level possible. You could tell his passion just from hearing him talk. That really impressed me."

And the reason the players love Jerry, and some of the owners loathe him? He spends money.

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