NFL takes millions in cap space away from Cowboys, 'Skins

The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins will have considerably less to work with when free agency opens on Tuesday.

The NFL has taken away millions in salary cap space from both teams after the two NFC East clubs pushed spending into the uncapped year to save money under the cap in 2011 and '12.

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The money taken from Dallas and Washington will be put back into the league pool and distributed in cap space among the other clubs. Teams were warned not to spend into the uncapped year as a way of circumventing the salary cap in the future.

"The Management Council Executive Committee determined that the contract practices of a small number of clubs during the 2010 league year created an unacceptable risk to future competitive balance, particularly in light of the relatively modest salary cap growth projected for the new agreement's early years," the NFL said in a statement.

"To remedy these effects and preserve competitive balance throughout the league, the parties to the CBA agreed to adjustments to team salary for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. These agreed-upon adjustments were structured in a manner that will not affect the salary cap or player spending on a league-wide basis."

Prior to the uncapped year, the competition committee warned teams that punishment would be levied for taking advantage of the circumstances. The Redskins and Cowboys were the most egregious offenders, as they dumped huge base salaries to players such as DeAngelo Hall, Albert Haynesworth and Miles Austin into the 2010 season in order to get the big numbers in those deals off the books while there was no cap.

The Cowboys denied they violated the league's salary cap rules in a statement Monday.

"The Dallas Cowboys were in compliance with all league salary cap rules during the uncapped year," it read. "We look forward to the start of the free agency period where our commitment to improving our team remains unchanged."

The Redskins also said in a statement they have not been informed of any salary cap adjustments by the league.

"The Washington Redskins have received no written documentation from the NFL concerning adjustments to the team salary cap in 2012 as reported in various media outlets," executive vice president Bruce Allen said. "Every contract entered into by the club during the applicable periods complied with the 2010 and 2011 collective bargaining agreements and, in fact, were approved by the NFL commissioner's office. We look forward to free agency, the draft and the coming football season."

The competition committee would not give final approval of the new adjusted salary cap number for the 2012 season until this matter was taken care of. The union pushed to make sure the pool would not shrink, so it was decided that the savings from the Redskins' and Cowboys' infractions would go back in the pool, and be split among the 28 abiding teams.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

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