In a decision over a year in the making, an arbitrator awards a complete victory to the Buccaneers, ordering the return of $1.5 million and providing the team with added cap space in 2006
Arbitrator Shyam Das has ruled in favor of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their grievance against Keenan McCardell, filed last year after McCardell's five-month holdout over a contract dispute.
The decision supported the Bucs' claims completely. Said Das in summarizing his report, released Tuesday:
"The Club's grievance is granted. Keenan McCardell shall forthwith repay the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the total sum of $1,500,000."
McCardell's holdout began June 22, 2004 when he refused to report for the beginning of Tampa Bay's mandatory mini-camp, though he had a valid contract. It ended when he was traded to the San Diego Chargers on October 19, after he had missed training camp and the first six games of the regular season, in the process incurring more than $700,000 in lost wages. In effect, the arbitrator's decision forces McCardell to be responsible for the damage his holdout caused the Buccaneers in 2004.
The league office was also pleased with the decision.
"We are pleased that, once again, a neutral arbitrator has enforced the terms of an NFL Player Contract agreed to by a player and club," said Dennis L. Curran, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the NFL's Management Council.
Added Curran: "When Keenan McCardell refused to report to Tampa Bay in 2004 as a tactic to renegotiate his contract, he violated its terms and is required to return $1,500,000 received by him as signing and roster bonuses. Upholding these provisions discourages player holdouts at all NFL teams."
The returned bonuses will positively affect the Buccaneers' salary cap in 2006, dovetailing nicely with the team's two-year efforts to clear up what had become an untenable cap situation. When signing bonuses are returned to a club, the corresponding value is added to the following year's cap; in this case, the Bucs will gain $1 million in cap room in 2006.
Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen, who has led the efforts to clear the team's overloaded cap, had expected this benefit.
"We were confident that the arbitrator would agree with us that Keenan McCardell's actions were wrong," said Allen. "His actions were a clear violation of a valid contract and the eventual consequences should have been obvious at the time."