Since the day after his second straight double-digit losing season in his two years in command in Washington ended on Jan. 2, Mike Shanahan had been mum with the media.
Over the ensuing 12 weeks, the Redskins: traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder for the right to move up from the sixth selection to the second spot in the 2012 draft; met with then-free agent/Hall of Fame lock quarterback Peyton Manning; franchised tight end Fred Davis; let safety LaRon Landry, a five-year starter, leave as a free agent; signed free agents Pierre Garcon, Cedric Griffin, Brandon Meriweather and Joshua Morgan, and retained defensive end Adam Carriker; and had $18 million docked from their salary cap this year and next by the NFL for alleged salary cap misbehavior in 2010.
Other than that, it has been yet another quiet offseason at Redskins Park. And on March 28, the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach finally broke his silence at the annual NFC coaches' breakfast at the NFL meetings in Palm Beach.
The hottest topic of Shanahan's session was the deal with St. Louis to be able to draft either Baylor's Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III or fellow standout quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford, whichever one Indianapolis doesn't take first overall to replace Manning.
"If you can get a guy that you feel is a franchise quarterback, then you've got to make decisions in the best interest of your organization, and we felt it was," Shanahan said when asked about the high price. "When I think back about when the Broncos got John Elway, I don't think anybody looks back and says, 'Hey, did we overpay?' To get a guy like that doesn't happen very often. So to get a guy that you feel is a franchise quarterback, I think you've really upped your organization over the long term."
Shanahan attended Griffin's and Luck's on-campus Pro Days recently and was at least as impressed with each quarterback as he was beforehand.
"When you make a move to the second pick of the draft, you've got to feel very comfortable with both guys," he said. "Whatever happens, happens, but you've got to feel great about both."
Although the Redskins made the trade with the Rams just two days after Manning was cut, Shanahan and his son/offensive coordinator, Kyle, still met with him for five hours at the coach's sprawling home in suburban Denver less than 48 hours later as Sports Illustrated first reported.
"We had a great conversation," Shanahan said. "I know he gave (signing with Washington) with a lot of thought."
While Manning wound up signing with Shanahan's former team, the Broncos, the coach said the Redskins knew that they might have had to overpay to add new, young receivers Garcon and Morgan ($29 million guaranteed combined) in the first hours of free agency in order to help surround Griffin or Luck with as much talent as possible.
"If you want to win the Super Bowl, you've got to have that guy that gives you a chance to win year in and year out," explained Shanahan, who won his titles in 1997 and 1998 with Hall of Famer Elway at quarterback. "You've got to give them the right supporting cast ... but once you have that guy, it picks up everybody on your football team."
As for the salary-cap slapdown by the NFL that the Redskins have asked arbitrator Stephen Burbank to review, Shanahan generally followed Redskins owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen in declinig comment, but he did say, "Right now, I'm not allowed to talk about it. Believe me, I'd like to, but I can't."
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