Skins penalized $36 million in salary cap space

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2012 file photo, Robert Griffin III laughs as he answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Free agency got a lot better for the Washington Redskins when they traded to move up in the draft. It\'s easier to compete in the open market with Griffin III as a selling point. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

George Wallace,

WASHINGTON – Remember the excitement this past weekend when the Redskins made a trade to get the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft — opening the door for the burgundy and gold to possibly take Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III?

Well, thanks to the NFL, the Skins will be penalized and lose $36 million of salary cap space, and will have limited funds to go after free agents.

It all stems from the “front loading” of contracts during the uncapped 2010 season when the team paid exorbitant bonuses to Albert Haynesworth ($21 million) and DeAngelo Hall ($15 million) at the same time.

By doing this, Owner Dan Snyder took immediate cap hits in the 2010 season, which normally would have been spread out over the lengths of the contracts.

Washington — and the rival Cowboys — were the only teams affected.

So the question is, did the NFL and its owners gang up on Snyder and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones?

The NFL announced Monday the salary cap is set at $120.6 million in 2012. The Redskins will be allowed to split the loss over the next two seasons, while the other 28 NFL teams will receive $1.6 million in additional cap space this year from the pool of money.

The Redskins have already made two moves to help offset this a bit by releasing veteran fullback Mike Sellers and veteran Safety Oshiomogho (O.J.) Atogwe. These moves will save the team around $4.5 million this year.

ESPN reports if the Redskins decide to split the losses over the next two years, meaning they take an $18 million hit this year, then the team will still have around $18 million to play with. That’s still a big difference from where the team thought it stood as of Monday morning with more than $40 million of space to use once free agency begins Tuesday at 4 p.m.

It’s always something with this team.

The Redskins and St. Louis Rams have a deal in place for Washington to move into the No. 2 overall spot in next month’s NFL draft. The Redskins will give up a three first-round selections, plus a second-round pick this year in the swap.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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