Redskins weighing possible contract extension for Mike Shanahan

December 31, 2012

The Washington Redskins are seriously considering negotiating a contract extension this offseason with Coach Mike Shanahan, multiple people with knowledge of the team’s planning said Monday.

The extension would be Shanahan’s reward for coaching the Redskins to their first NFC East title since the 1999 season. The Redskins secured the division crown with Sunday night’s 28-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. They’re scheduled to host the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in a first-round NFC playoff game.

One person with knowledge of the team’s deliberations on the matter said Monday that Redskins officials were trying to decide whether to work on a possible extension with Shanahan this offseason, with two seasons left on his existing contract, or wait to do it when he’s down to one season remaining on his contract.

That person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said he did not believe that a final decision had been made on the matter but he thinks it is likely the Redskins will pursue the extension with Shanahan this offseason rather than waiting.

Another person with knowledge of the Redskins’ plans said an extension with Shanahan could be done but “not until after the season.”

The Redskins signed Shanahan to a five-year contract, thought to be worth about $7 million per season, when they hired him in January 2010. There have been no known extensions to that contract, meaning it would expire after the 2014 season.

The team went a combined 11-21 in Shanahan’s first two seasons. The Redskins were 3-6 this season after losing to the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 4, after which Shanahan said the rest of the team’s season would be about evaluating players. That defeat dropped his overall record with the Redskins to 14-27. But they haven’t lost since, winning seven straight games to finish the regular season with a record of 10-6. They have the NFC’s longest active winning streak as they prepare for the playoffs.

“I’m very proud of this group because there are a lot of people, when you’re 3-6, who find some adversity and they’re not strong enough mentally to really go out there and practice hard, give themselves a chance to accomplish goals,” Shanahan said at his news conference Monday at Redskins Park. “You have to have strong character to take criticism and not worry about what’s being said and just focus on your job.”

Shanahan was not immediately available to comment later Monday about the possibility of a contract extension being negotiated with him this offseason.

The team declined to comment through a spokesman.

Shanahan, 60, won two Super Bowls while coaching the Denver Broncos.

“You understand as a coach, unless you get it done, people forget very quickly what you’ve done,” Shanahan said at his news conference. “That’s why I think winning the NFC East and you get a game like that, you want to find a way to win it because once you do that, momentum starts again. There are a lot of games that you play and unless you take advantage of the opportunity, people forget very quickly.”

The Washington Post’s Mike Jones breaks down the Redskins’ win over Dallas for the team’s first division title since the 1999 season. (The Washington Post)

Shanahan has aided the rapid progress of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. He chose sixth-round draft pick Alfred Morris to be the Redskins’ starting tailback entering the season, and Morris set the single-season team rushing record with 1,613 yards.

“It’s just another step that we’re taking right now,” veteran tight end Chris Cooley said in the Redskins’ locker room late Sunday night. “But I think this [coaching] staff has been outstanding.”

Players say they’re convinced the Redskins have turned the corner for good under Shanahan and will be prosperous for years to come.

“I always looked at him as being a winner,” veteran wide receiver Santana Moss said last week. “I was looking forward to winning with him. So to be where we’re at right now — I think one thing he said when he first got here [was] it always took him a couple years to get where he’s trying to get with his teams. This is our third year. And to me, I feel like he’s got the kind of core guys that he wants on his team.

“That’s one of the things that I’m really pleased to be around, that he said he was going to get the guys that he knows that he wants on his team, to play the way that we’ve been playing for him.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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