Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan answers questions regarding Donovan McNabb, Albert Haynesworth
By Mike Jones,
INDIANAPOLIS — Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said he hopes to obtain a resolution to quarterback Donovan McNabb’s situation by late April or early May and that the team will wait until defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth’s legal issues are resolved before determining his future.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Jan. 3, Shanahan said at the NFL Combine that he spoke with McNabb’s Chicago-based agent, Fletcher N. Smith, for about 90 minutes Wednesday and had a “great conversation.” During the talk, Shanahan said he and Smith cleared up the misunderstandings both sides had regarding McNabb’s rocky first season in Washington, which ended with the six-time Pro Bowler benched for the final three games and with Smith accusing Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, of leaking criticisms of his client.
McNabb signed a contract extension with the Redskins on Nov. 16, but given no certainty that he would start next season, he hopes to play elsewhere. Shanahan wouldn’t go into the specifics of his conversation with Smith, or the Redskins’ plans for McNabb, but the coach said progress was made.
Shanahan’s plans, of course, could be hindered if the league’s owners and the players’ association can’t agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. (Without a new CBA, teams cannot sign or trade players).
“We really don’t know what the situation [with the lockout] is,” Shanahan said. “I’m just counting [on] business as usual, and I think if you adjust from there, you’ll be fine. Like I said, I had a good conversation with Fletcher. Now he’ll have some time to digest what we talked about. We’ll get together. When it will be — two, three, four weeks — I can’t tell you for sure. But the conversation will be ongoing.”
When asked if Haynesworth would still be a member of the Redskins next season, Shanahan said, “I really don’t know.” The defensive tackle clashed with coaches this past season over his unwillingness to play nose tackle in the 3-4 defensive scheme. He was suspended for the final four games of the season for “conduct detrimental to the team,” which partially stemmed from Haynesworth’s refusal to speak to Shanahan after he was made inactive for the Dec. 5 game against the New York Giants.
Haynesworth has appealed the four-game suspension in an attempt to recoup the $847,000 of lost game checks, and that resolution awaits an arbitration hearing.
Further complicating matters for Haynesworth are allegations that he punched a fellow driver as he sat in his car on the Fairfax County Parkway in Reston on Feb. 4. Haynesworth was charged with simple assault and is due to report to Fairfax County court next month. Then on Feb. 13, Haynesworth was accused of sexually assaulting a waitress at the W Hotel in the District. He has not been charged, and an investigation is ongoing
Shanahan said he hasn’t spoken with Haynesworth regarding either of the legal incidents.
“It’s alleged, relative to the two situations that’s happened,” the coach said. “I’ve got to let the due process take care of itself. Obviously, the NFL can step in as well if it’s not alleged. I hate to speculate on something that I don’t know anything about. After the process is over, I can tell you exactly what our plans will be.”
In other team-related news, Shanahan said he hopes the Redskins can re-sign wide receiver Santana Moss, who will be a free agent whenever a new CBA is reached. The coach was less committal, however, when asked about running back Clinton Portis. Portis is under contract for the coming year, but he is owed roughly $8 million for the coming year. Shanahan said that the Redskins likely will cut Portis, allow him to entertain offers from other teams and gauge his worth. But he didn’t entirely close the door on the 10-year veteran’s return.
“If we’re not going to sign Clinton to that high salary, I’ll let him test the market out,” Shanahan said. “Not to say we don’t want him, but for a lower price, and obviously we’ll try to find the best deal. It could happen.”