When he announced Wednesday that Kirk Cousins was taking over as the team’s starting quarterback, Shanahan said Snyder and General Manager Bruce Allen agreed with the move. Shanahan said he wouldn’t have made the move if Snyder and Allen did not support the decision.
Several people with knowledge of the deliberations confirmed Snyder did not object when told by Shanahan. But those people, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said it is not clear whether Snyder endorsed the maneuver.
Snyder’s approval was not the main issue, those people said, because Snyder took the view that the matter was Shanahan’s responsibility and that he should not intervene.
“He thought it was up to the coach, a coaching decision,” one of those people said. “Whether he agreed or didn’t agree is not the issue.”
Snyder has been unavailable to comment.
It is believed Shanahan’s contract gives him full control over personnel decisions such as picking the starting quarterback. Shanahan said Wednesday he was not obligated to consult with Snyder but did so anyway because it involved such a critical decision about a franchise quarterback.
The people close to the situation said it was not clear whether Shanahan’s contract was a factor in Snyder’s decision not to oppose the move. One person did raise the possibility the contract might have been a consideration since Snyder could have been found in violation of it if he were viewed by Shanahan as blocking it.
Shanahan said this week he has a good relationship with Snyder and called Snyder a supportive owner. That is at odds with Sunday’s report by ESPN that Shanahan considered quitting last season because of dissatisfaction over the close relationship between Snyder and Griffin. Members of the team’s management were said to be angry about the report and suspicious of the timing and motivation behind it.
When Shanahan first raised the possibility Monday of benching Griffin, one person with ties to the team said it appeared Shanahan was trying to provoke Snyder to fire him so he could leave the organization immediately and be paid the remainder of his contract, which runs through next season and is worth about $7 million per year. Shanahan said Wednesday he was not trying to be fired or he would not have consulted Snyder on the Griffin move.
It is believed Shanahan would have to be paid for the rest of his contract if he’s fired. The same is true of Shanahan’s assistants, and multiple people close to the matter said for now Snyder does not appear willing to dismiss the entire staff and pay the full amounts of the contracts, which total an estimated $13 million for Shanahan and the assistants.
Snyder could be waiting to see whether Shanahan will resign, in which case he would forfeit the money due to him, or is willing to accept a buyout for a reduced figure, one of those people said.
It is unclear how long the standoff might continue, and perhaps the only scenario under which Shanahan could remain in place as the team’s coach is if both he and Snyder remain unwilling to budge on the financial issue. But several of those close to the matter said they continue to believe it’s likely Shanahan and the team will part ways shortly after the season ends at the latest.