The players union sued the league for collusion Wednesday, alleging a "conspiracy" to impose a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost players at least $1 billion.
The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2006 included an uncapped 2010. But on March 12, the league lowered the Cowboys' and Redskins' caps by $10 million and $36 million, respectively, over the next two seasons. It said they undermined competitive balance by overspending in 2010.
The union was involved in setting the penalties, which allowed 28 teams to boost their caps for the two seasons. (The Raiders' and Saints' overspending was determined not to be as egregious but enough to cost them the increase.) It now believes Dallas and Washington were punished for exceeding a covert cap of $123 million, not undermining competitive balance.
"If we wanted salary cap increases for the (other 28 clubs), the price for doing that was doing this salary cap reallocation," union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said. "Had the union known about prior collusion, the union would never have agreed to these cap reallocations."
The league called the claim of a conspiracy "totally unfounded" and said the CBA signed in August prohibited suing for "collusion with respect to any League Year prior to 2011." It added the union signed a separate agreement acknowledging that.
But Kessler said that agreement was rejected by the federal court overseeing the league's labor relations.
A pretrial hearing has not been scheduled.
Cowboys don't plan to trade ex-USF star
IRVING, Texas — Cornerback Mike Jenkins will remain with the Cowboys, coach Jason Garrett said.
The former USF player is entering the final season of his five-year contract and is missing this week's voluntary workouts while rehabbing — in Florida instead of Dallas — from January's right shoulder surgery.
According to multiple reports, Dallas tried to trade Jenkins after drafting LSU All-America cornerback Morris Claiborne sixth overall last month. In addition, it signed former Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year deal worth $50 million.
"Mike Jenkins, we believe, is a big part of our football team right now," Garrett said. "He's making a business decision not to be here. But we're not going to trade him. We've got to get him healthy. We've got to get him back getting going."
Seahawk suspended: The league banned Seattle reserve offensive tackle Allen Barbre four games for violating its performance-enhancing substance policy. Details weren't disclosed.
Trade: The Broncos sent defensive back Cassius Vaughn to the Colts for fullback Chris Gronkowski. Gronkowski, brother of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, has appeared in 21 games for Dallas (2010) and Indianapolis (2011). Vaughn has 22 tackles and an interception over 22 games.
Bears: Receiver Johnny Knox, out since surgery to stabilize a vertebra, said he will play again but isn't sure when. While diving for a fumble on Dec. 18, Knox was bent backward by Seahawks end Anthony Hargrove. Knox is lifting weights and jogging.
49ers: Three-time All-Pro punter Andy Lee signed a six-year extension. Financial terms were not disclosed. Last season, Lee, 29, set a league record with a 44-yard net average.