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NFL: Union, league at odds over 2010 cap penalties

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The NFL Players Association filed a reply to the league's motion to defeat the players' collusion case against owners on Thursday.

The basis of the case is that owners conspired to use a salary cap threshold during the "uncapped year" in 2010, and is a response to the Cowboys and Redskins being docked salary cap space for adjusting contracts to avoid future cap violations.

"In its filing, the NFLPA informed the Court that in March 2012, once the NFL and Owners believed they were in the clear, they imposed punishments on two teams -- the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys --that failed to fully honor the owners' illegal conspiracy to collude during the uncapped 2010 season," the NFLPA said in a release Friday. "Public comments by Owners in March 2012 about those punishments exposed what had been, until then, a carefully concealed agreement to violate the White Stipulation and Settlement Agreement (SSA). But now, confronted with a damages claim for their admitted conspiracy, the Owners desperately seek to find some legal argument to shield them from redress for the willful violations of the anti-collusion provisions of the Reggie White antitrust settlement agreement."

"The NFLPA's filing makes clear that each of the NFL's arguments fails, and the Players have the right to continue to vigorously pursue full legal remedies for the NFL's egregious violations. Oral arguments on the case will be heard by Judge David Doty on Sept. 6, 2012 in Minneapolis."

The special master who heard the appeal of the Cowboys and Redskins granted the NFL's motion to dismiss a grievance on May 22, upholding two-year penalties structured to dissolve $36 million of cap space for Washington with Dallas losing $10 million.

The NFL released a response to the NFL filing on Friday.

"So it's crystal clear: There was no collusion. There was no agreement. These claims are totally unfounded," the statement read.

The Cowboys and Redskins initially opposed the punishment and reduction in cap space, but relented following the May ruling.

"We pursued our salary cap claim pursuant to the CBA and we respect and will abide by the arbitrator's decision to dismiss," the teams said in a joint statement in May.

The arbitration hearing in which the Cowboys and Redskins separately made appeals on their salary-cap penalties was heard May 10.

League system arbitrator Stephen Burbank, who heard the arguments earlier in the month, made the call to dismiss the appeal according to NFL counsel Jeff Pash.

Each team was docked for using the uncapped 2010 year to create what was characterized as an unfair competitive advantage going forward, putting large base salary numbers into 2010 on player contracts. Dallas did it in the contract of wide receiver Miles Austin, while Washington structured contracts with extra money in 2010 for cornerback DeAngelo Hall and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

---Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has played 45 snaps in the preseason in 2 1/2 quarters with the first-team offense. Whether coach John Fox is willing to let him go that long in one game appears unlikely.

Fox and Manning might err on the cautious side Sunday, when the Broncos play the 49ers. In what is typically the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, the Broncos' first-team offense might play into the third quarter -- without Manning.

The plan would serve dual purposes for Denver. It would give the coaching staff and team president John Elway an extended look at second-string rookie quarterback Brock Osweiler and preserve Manning for the regular-season opener against the Steelers on Sept. 9.

Manning is 20 of 30 for 221 yards with three interceptions and a 48.8 passer rating in the preseason.

His last regular-season game was the finale of the 2010 season in Indianapolis against Tennessee. Manning completed 27 of 41 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Signed to a five-year, $95 million contract in March after being released by the Colts, Manning, Fox and Elway have all proclaimed the 36-year-old quarterback healthy.

"He's throwing the ball excellent," Fox said. "He's convinced he is still getting better every day. I don't think he ever stops trying to get better. I respect that about him. He holds guys accountable. He's a perfectionist."

---The Cowboys aren't expecting cornerback Mike Jenkins to play in the regular-season opener Sept. 5 against the Giants.

Jenkins had extensive surgery in January after wearing a protective harness and dealing with the injury for most of the season. He didn't participate in offseason workouts and still isn't cleared to practice.

"He's going to have his situation evaluated by his surgeon and it may be a little late in the preseason for him," owner Jerry Jones told KRLD-FM in Dallas. "But that'd be real interesting if we had an evaluation on him by this weekend, I'd like to have that problem to mull over. I really would."

Jenkins is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews within the week.

Jenkins requested a trade after the Cowboys traded up in the draft to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 6 overall pick in April. The Cowboys released Terence Morris and signed Brandon Carr to a $50.1 million deal, but refused to oblige Jenkins' request to be traded.

Jenkins has started 43 of 44 career games. The former first-round pick is entering the final year of his contract.

---The Cincinnati Bengals made a number of roster moves Friday.

Cornerback Brandon Ghee (wrist), CB Shaun Prater (knee), WR/CB Taveon Rogers (shoulder), S Robert Sands (chest) and G Travelle Wharton (knee) were placed on injured reserve.

* Waived four players -- rookie DE Luke Black of Fairmont State, third-year HB Aaron Brown of Texas Christian, rookie QB Tyler Hansen of Colorado and first-year G Matt Murphy of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Today's moves leave the Bengals with 76 players on the roster. NFL rosters must be cut to 75 by Mon., Aug. 27.
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