- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHOENIX -- If you were hoping, as the Washington Redskins were, that they would come out here to the NFL owners meetings and be able to convince the league to give them back some of the $36 million in salary cap room it took from them last year as a penalty for the way they structured some contracts in the uncapped 2010 season, you can stop hoping. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, a recent series of discussions between the Redskins and the league went nowhere, and the league continues to hold firm in its refusal to reduce or eliminate the penalties.
The Redskins had $18 million taken from their salary cap last year and $18 million again this year. The Dallas Cowboys were penalized $5 million last year and $5 million this year for the same murky reason. The cap room was redistributed evenly among 28 of the other teams (everyone but the Saints and Raiders). Partly as a result, the Redskins and Cowboys had to struggle just to get under the cap by the start of the league year last week and have not been able to do much maneuvering since free agency began.
It was always a pipe dream for the Redskins to think they could get this fixed. As soon as Giants owner John Mara, the chairman of the committee that levied the penalties, came out at last year's league meetings and angrily asserted that the Cowboys and Redskins were "lucky they didn't lose draft picks" for their perceived offenses, it was clear the league was dug in on this. There was no harm in trying, of course, but to believe the Redskins would ever get relief would have been to ignore what was actually going on. The owners insist they agreed on certain unwritten rules of behavior regarding contracts in the uncapped year and that the Redskins and Cowboys violated those rules. End of story. At least I think it is, this time.