On the eve of free agency, the NFL has dropped an absolute bomb on the Redskins and Cowboys. Due to their front loading contracts in the uncapped year, the NFL has docked Dallas $10 million in cap space and the Redskins have lost $36 million. The money have be distributed over the next two seasons however they like, so this isn't necessarily off their cap this season, but a significant portion will be.
The cap space will be distributed to the other 30 teams, meaning that each gets an additional $1.6 million to spend. That's why the NFLPA wouldn't really have a problem with this, because the pool of money for players is unchanged.
For the Redskins, it's a killer blow. They essentially gave away all their top picks for the next three years in part because they were heading into this free agency period with over $47 million in cap space. So they could have built around RG3 through free agency. Not anymore. They'll still have room to spend, but having $36 million less over the next two years obviously changes the whole game for them.
Why did this happen? During the uncapped year in 2010, the league repeatedly warned teams not to heavily front load deals in that season in order to get players cheaper later in their contracts when the salary cap was back. They were warned that if they did this there would be penalties. The Cowboys and Redskins essentially just ignored this and the other teams who did abide by the rules wanted action. Exhibit A for Dallas would have to be Miles Austin, who was given a 6 year, $54 million deal in the uncapped season, with $17 million in base salary in the first year. Austin has severely regressed since then and now, as a result, the team will probably lose Laurent Robinson, who was much better than Austin last season.
For the Redskins, much of the penalty stems from the deals given to Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall. As Hogs Haven put it, Fat Albert is the "gift that keeps on giving."
I'm really of two minds about this. For one, it's hard to feel that bad for them because they were warned and did it anyway. So they had to known there was a chance there would be consequences of their actions. Now that said, these were unwritten rules. It was an uncapped year and legally the teams did nothing wrong. What they did was not collude with the rest of the NFL to more or less keep a quasi cap in place. So the Redskins and Cowboys elected to play by different rules than everyone else two years ago, so now they get different rules now. Only the rules now are real and two years ago they weren't.
So I can really see both sides here, but if I was a fan of the Redskins or Cowboys... I'd probably be screaming bloody murder.