The players union claimed Wednesday that the NFL imposed a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost the players at least $1 billion.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, which oversees the Reggie White settlement covering NFL labor matters. But the league says the union has no grounds for the action and is prohibited from filing it by the collective bargaining agreement.
The complaint claims a “conspiracy” to set a $123 million salary cap for the 2010 season, when owners did not have the authority to do so. The Cowboys and Redskins have had their future salary caps lowered for overspending in 2010, Dallas by $10 million over two seasons, Washington by $36 million.
Both teams lost a grievance against those reductions on Tuesday.
“When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act. We cannot stand by when we now know that the owners conspired to collude,” union chief DeMaurice Smith said Wednesday.
In response to the reopening of the Reggie White lawsuit, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “There was no collusion. There was no agreement. These claims are totally unfounded.”
A league statement said the collective bargaining agreement signed last August to end the 41/2 -month lockout prohibited the filing of these claims, and that players’ attorneys signed a separate agreement agreeing to the terms.
But NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler said that agreement was rejected by the court.
The NFL also points to a clause in the latest labor contract in which the union gives up the right to sue over “collusion with respect to any League Year prior to 2011.”
Thus, the NFL has considered the 2010 uncapped season a closed matter ever since the new labor deal was signed last summer.