PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Dallas Cowboys have chosen to fight back against the NFL for penalizing the team $10 million of salary cap space over the next two seasons.
According to a team source, the Cowboys and Washington Redskins have filed a formal grievance against the league and have sought arbitration.
Stephen Burbank, who handles arbitration between the players and the league, will rule on the appeal but no timetable has been set.
The Redskins were docked $36 million in cap space over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Both teams were penalized for front-loading contracts in the uncapped 2010 season. The league warned teams to not use the year as a financial dumping ground to preserve future competitive balance.
According to a Cowboys source, the team thinks it has a good case largely because the NFL management council originally approved the contracts in 2010.
Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones, who arrived Sunday on the eve of the owners' meetings in Palm Beach, said the team is "trying to avoid" taking legal action.
The contract at issue for the Cowboys is the six-year, $57 million deal the team gave receiver Miles Austin that included an unprecedented $17 million base salary.
Giants owner John Mara, also chairman of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee, said the Cowboys and Redskins are lucky the penalties weren't much worse.
"I thought the penalties imposed were proper," Mara said Sunday. "What they did was in violation of the spirit of the salary cap. They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole, and quite frankly, I think they're lucky they didn't lose draft picks.... They attempted to take advantage of it knowing full well there would be consequences."
But Jones disagrees.
"That's John's opinion, that's not my opinion" Jones said. "We have our views and they have their opinion. Obviously, that's why we will go before an arbitrator."
Clarence E. Hill Jr.