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Collusion Missile Crisis: Redskins Wage War on NFL

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A Washington Redskins fan cheers during their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField on January 6, 2013. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

A Washington Redskins fan cheers during their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField on January 6, 2013. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - The Washington Redskins and the NFL are in the middle of a high stakes game of poker, and Roger Goodell is calling Daniel Snyder’s bluff.

At least, that’s how Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio explained the Redskins potentially bringing a collusion case against the league.

In his in-depth analysis, Florio explained just how high the stakes are for Snyder, and how seeking an injunction to stall the March 12 start of Free Agency would be the equivalent of ‘All-In’ for the Redskins.

“If the Redskins would pull the trigger on what I’ve been calling the nuclear option, that means suing the other 31 teams,” Florio told the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday. “That means alleging that the NFL engaged in anti-trust violations and collusion; that the Redskins were punished because they failed to go along with the collusion.”

As Jason La Canfora recapped on Tuesday, following the lockout, the NFL seized salary cap space from the Redskins and Cowboys as a penalty for front-loading contracts during the uncapped year. The $36 million cap hit was spread out over two seasons, and as the Redskins head into their second penalized year, the final $18 million could cost them the free agents necessary to fill their roster, as well as force them to cut valuable veterans just to meet cap requirements.

You’ll remember, the Redskins already tried and failed to recoup some of that money heading into the 2012 league year, but according to Florio, those efforts were undermined by the NFLPA.

“That opened the door for the NFLPA to try to sue for collusion belatedly, and that failed, as it should have, because they should have made that argument before they signed the labor deal,” Florio said. “But now that the issue with the union is gone, the Redskins could try to do this. If the Redskins do this now, and try to seek an injunction blocking the start of Free Agency, that’s huge.”

Florio confirmed he had heard from multiple executives around the league that during the lockout, a message was exchanged between owners suggesting “we don’t want anyone to go crazy” in the uncapped year.

“Well, that’s collusion because that’s putting rules beyond the rules that were in the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” Florio said. “There were restrictions on the uncapped year that were bargained for with the union. You can’t put other restrictions on that or you’re engaging in collusion. You’ve got 32 different businesses coming together saying we’re going to set the market price for spending or whatever.”

Assuming that’s true, two possibilities could be drawn: either Snyder didn’t get the memo, or he chose to ignore it knowing he was shielded by anti-trust laws.

But make no mistake about it, the Redskins suing 31 other teams – or 30 if you subtract the Cowboys – is every bit as serious as it sounds.

“I think the NFL looks at it and says, ‘There’s no way Daniel Snyder is going to behave like Al Davis would have,’” Florio explained. “There’s no way this guy is going to sue the NFL because that creates a wound that takes decades to heal, if ever.”

He went on to explain why it’s unlikely the NFL makes a compromise to concede $18 million back to Washington. Although, this course of action would benefit the NFL in avoiding messy court proceedings, of which the outcome could mean delaying Free Agency and a nasty black eye for the league should it be proven guilty of collusion.

“I think it’s a bluff and the NFL will likely call their bluff, and then the Redskins are going to have to decide, do we go forward with this?” Florio said. “The NFL doesn’t compromise, especially when the NFL doesn’t believe that it’s going to face the music in court.”

So what if teams around the league hate the Redskins? Who cares?

Some things to consider before you rush to judgment:

If 30 of the other 31 owners grow to despise Dan Snyder for blatantly ignoring an unspoken agreement, then suing them for their reprisal, it could make all future dealings out of Ashburn that much more difficult.

Trades likely wouldn’t be affected so long as deals are still mutually beneficial, but imagine the Jets have a Special Teams coordinator Mike Shanahan really wants to hire. Oh, but he’s under contract and the Jets won’t give the Redskins permission to speak with him.

Of course, the Jets wouldn’t allow their vendetta to prevent career advancement for one of their own, so they allow Philadelphia to speak with him instead. One day later he’s hired by the Eagles, within the division.

Owners, while rich and powerful, are still subject to human emotions.

So will Snyder press the button?

He’s entered the launch code.

Now we wait.

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