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Arbitration Hearing On Cowboys and Redskins Cap Penalty Set

The Jones family (Jerry, Stephen, and Jerry Jr.) will soon get their day in arbitration.
The Jones family (Jerry, Stephen, and Jerry Jr.) will soon get their day in arbitration.

Although the Dallas Cowboys have managed to forge ahead with a successful free agency period, the team is still hoping to get a reversal of the $10 million salary cap penalty capriciously imposed by the NFL. The initial hearing on the action taken against the Cowboys and the Washington Redskins will be held in May before Special Master Stephen Burbank, as reported by Josh Ellis at the mothership. Jerry Jones is optimistic that this will all be settled before the team gets to the games this fall.

The teams may not immediately know the findings of the hearing, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said he anticipates a a resolution well before the beginning of the season.

The original source for the information is a report from Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a hearing will be held in May.

An update to that article quotes Albert Breer of the NFL Network saying that the date will be May 10.

A look at what this meeting is actually all about after the jump.

Dan Graziano at ESPN Dallas has delved into what this meeting is all about.

My source tells me this first hearing, in front of arbitrator Stephen Burbank, will be solely for the purpose of determining whether the NFL and the NFLPA had the authority to impose the sanctions against the Cowboys and the Redskins. There will be no determination made at the first hearing on how much, if any, money the teams get back. If Burbank finds that the league and the union did not have the authority to strip the Redskins of $36 million and the Cowboys of $10 million in cap room over the next two years, then a second hearing will be scheduled to determine how to make those teams whole. If he finds that the league and the union did have such authority, then it's possible a second hearing would be scheduled to rule on whether the punishments were appropriate or should be adjusted.

Obviously, there will be other dominoes to fall in this story. Looking at what Graziano said, the NFL appears to be the party to this hearing that has hurdles to clear. In looking at the question of whether the league had the authority to do this, they have to answer the question of why the contracts were approved, and also why other teams that did similar things during the uncapped year were not docked cap money. It also seems a good time to raise the issue of how one of the people who seems to be spearheading the effort is John Mara, who, as owner of the New York Giants, certainly seems poised to gain his own competitive advantage from this. It seems a contradiction of the one thing the league has claimed as its reason for this whole mess.

"The issue. . . was did any teams gain a competitive advantage," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said late last month. "That was the focus that the NFLPA and we had going forward. That is why we reached an agreement [with the union on the salary cap reductions]. We wanted to make sure coming out of this agreement that no one had a long-term competitive advantage."

Since the thing Dallas and Washington violated is what has been termed a "secret verbal agreement", the question of whether the attempt to restrict spending in the uncapped year constitutes collusion will likely be broached, at least indirectly. It is an interesting thought that the league may be in a position that the only way to avoid the collusion issue, which I believe would be a violation of labor law, would be to drop the penalties and admit that Dallas and Washington had a right to do what they did. At least that is what I am hoping for.


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