10 Days of Bruce-Mas! No. 10 - Capped Out!

Chris Russell

Yup! Your eyes aren't deceiving you! Instead of the 12 Days of Christmas, we here at Redskins Maven and SI.com are honoring Bruce Allen's ten years of leadership with the Redskins with a daily countdown to his ten-year anniversary  on December 17th. 

Here's how we're celebrating: Our team of Rick Snider, Bryan Manning, Ivan Lambert and myself along with some help from a secret contributor,  ranked the top-ten moments in in the Bruce Allen era as President/General Manager/Executive Vice President of the Washington Redskins. 

Only we're not doing it in the nice way. No. This is a list of the ten worst moments of Bruce's reign. Sorry, in advance. Oh and one more thing: We're extending this baby out over the next week-and-a-half, which might catch up to us if Dan Snyder hasn't calmed down yet and pulls the plug. 

Away we go!

No. 10: The $36 million dollar salary cap penalty in 2012 and 2013. 

While not purely Bruce Allen's fault and more the doing of New York Giants owner, John Mara, the Redskins were punished for trying to take advantage of the non salary cap year of 2010, the first year Allen was in charge. 

Even by Redskins standards, this story was bizarre. The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders were also involved and punished but to a much, much lesser degree than Washington. 

Both teams fought the decision by the NFL. Both lost as decided by arbitrator Steven Burbank. The Redskins had to forfeit $36 million , split over two years. The Cowboys were punished $10 million. 

The Redskins punishment was because of their re-arrangement of Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall's contracts, signed previously before the Allen administration began. 

Clearly, Allen could not be blamed for signing and structuring those contracts BUT he did arrange something that was referred to as the" I-4 off-ramp", as explained here by my pal J.I. Halsell, who once was a salary cap executive with the Redskins, and is a certified NFLPA Agent.  This so called "off-ramp" was a means to lower the cap value in other years beyond 2010 by dumping money into the uncapped season. 

Mara, busted the chops of two division rivals who were trying to play the system in a different way than the other NFL owners. who secretly colluded together to play the game they saw fit per Dan Graziano of ESPN. 

The NFLPA agreed to punish a few teams in exchange for not having the salary cap lowered in subsequent years and everyone basically got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. 

Here's the deal: Was it an egregious error by Allen and the Redskins? Absolutely not. He had used this mechanism before as Halsell explained in Tampa.

However, Halsell also warned in March of 2010 after the restructuring of Haynesworth and Hall's contracts, "given the uncertainty of what 2011 holds, clubs who take advantage of the uncapped year by incurring high team salaries in 2010 run the risk of possibly being penalized in 2011 as part of a new salary cap and CBA. Clearly, this is a risk the Redskins are willing to take." 

Washington was penalized in March of 2012, immediately after they traded away the ranch for Robert Griffin III and yet still won the division title. The true effect would not be felt until 2013, 2014 and even into later years because of the combination of lost draft picks and $36 million worth of space, which was the amount of the restructuring of the two contracts.  

Should they have done it without formal approval of some sort? No. The NFL allowed the initial contract restructures to be processed, which constitutes approval of the contract but not the circumvention of the salary cap. That's the difference, based on what I know.

Redskins fans can blame Mara and other greedy NFL owners all they want and it's a more than fair accusation. The bottom-line is this: Allen thought he was smarter than everyone else, put his organization in EXTREME peril and got burned for it. 

That's how the Bruce Allen era began and that's how the 10 days of Bruce-Mas begins for us! What a debacle! 

 Chris Russell is the Publisher of Maven & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.

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