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Volume 24 No. 134
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Arbitrator Rejects Salary Cut Appeals From Redskins, Cowboys

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejected appeals from the Redskins and Cowboys of cuts to their salary caps in ‘12 and ‘13. The two teams were punished for allegedly frontloading salaries in the uncapped year of ‘10, which the league had told teams not to do. However, it was not a formal policy. The two teams’ only options now appear to be fight the decision in court, if they so choose. Burbank relied heavily on the two clubs being part of the NFL, and the league’s bylaws allowing changes to occur with 24 owner votes. In essence, he ruled that when the NFL voted on March 27 for the penalties, that should be the end of the story at least in terms of internal NFL procedures.

Burbank disclosed in his decision that on March 22, the two clubs sent a letter to the Management Council, the NFL labor-negotiating arm, withdrawing from the entity for the purposes of this issue. Burbank rejected that move. “The clubs attempt selectively to revoke the Management Council’s authority through the March 22 letter was ineffective as a matter of law,” he wrote in the 12-page decision.

Notably, the fact that the NFLPA agreed to the cap cuts, which are to be redistributed to other clubs, did not weigh heavily in his decision. An NFL source said Burbank might have reached the same conclusion even if the NFLPA had not agreed to the cap hits, though it certainly made the decision simpler.

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