Union sues NFL, claims collusion during uncapped year

Posted by Michael David Smith on May 23, 2012, 12:11 PM EDT

During the 2010 season, there was no salary cap. But most NFL teams operated as if there were a salary cap, and two teams that didn’t — the Redskins and Cowboys — have since been penalized by the league.

That smells like collusion among the owners, and now the NFL Players Association is filing a lawsuit alleging just that.

The NFLPA’s suit says the owners conspired to have a secret salary cap of $123 million for the 2010 season, which was supposed to be the uncapped year.

“When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act. We cannot standby when we now know that the owners conspired to collude,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said.

The NFL says the lawsuit, which is being filed in the court of Judge David Doty, is prohibited by the current Collective Bargaining Agreement — the owners’ argument is that when the union accepted the current deal last year, the players were waiving their right to file this kind of lawsuit.

“The filing of these claims is prohibited by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and separately, by an agreement signed by the players’ attorneys last August,” the NFL said in a statement. “The claims have absolutely no merit and we fully expect them to be dismissed. On multiple occasions, the players and their representatives specifically dismissed all claims, known or unknown, whether pending or not.”

News of the lawsuit comes one day after the Redskins and Cowboys failed in their appeal of their combined $46 million in salary cap penalties for their actions during the uncapped year. What’s surprising is that when the NFL announced that punishment for the Redskins and Cowboys — which also included raising the salary caps of 28 of the other 30 teams — the union signed off on it. Now the union says what the owners did during the uncapped year was illegal.