Redskins and Mike Shanahan reach agreement
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan reached agreement with the Washington Redskins Tuesday night to become the team's next head coach and vice president of football operations, taking the position that many in the National Football League have for months presumed would be be his once the season ended.
Just two days after the team fired Jim Zorn following his disappointing two-year tenure, Shanahan agreed to a five-year contract and will be introduced at an afternoon news conference Wednesday at Redskins Park. Shanahan is expected to play a major role in assembling the team's roster -- a luxury also afforded former head coach Joe Gibbs -- and reshaping the franchise's future.
The Redskins would not confirm the multiple reports Tuesday evening, and Shanahan's agent, Sandy Montag, declined to comment. But ESPN broadcast a photograph of Shanahan shaking hands with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, which it said was taken before they headed out to celebrate.
"Very excited," Shanahan told NBC-4 following dinner Wednesday night at The Palm. "Great to be in the nation's capital."
The last time the Redskins hired a head coach, the team spent more than a month searching for the perfect candidate. This time, they wrapped up their search in less than two days. Shanahan flew into Washington on Monday, just hours after the Redskins fired Zorn, and began meeting at Snyder's house to discuss organizational structure and philosophy. The discussions were productive, and Shanahan summoned his agent Tuesday morning to Washington to hammer out final contract details, according to an ESPN report.
Under terms of his new contract, Shanahan has agreed to a deal that is expected to pay him approximately $7 million per year. The Broncos fired Shanahan following the 2008 season and owed him $14 million on his previous contract. They have agreed to pick up approximately $3.5 million each in 2010 and 2011, according to a Denver Post report.
As word spread early Tuesday evening, the news was greeted by Redskins players as an important step forward for the organization.
Running back Clinton Portis called it a "great idea," and linebacker London Fletcher said Shanahan "instantly becomes the face of the franchise."
"I definitely think he's the type of leader and he has the type of leadership qualities that we need in a head coach," said quarterback Jason Campbell. "I think he's the type of person who we need to get everybody around here on the same page."
Shanahan, 57, comes to the Redskins already with two Super Bowl championships on his résumé. In 16 seasons as head coach, including 14 with Denver, Shanahan compiled a 154-103 record.
Though he's expected to interview members of Zorn's current coaching staff, Shanahan will likely bring with him a new group of assistants and coordinators, including his son, Kyle Shanahan, currently the Houston Texans offensive coordinator. Speculation has centered on Cincinnati's Mike Zimmer to become the new defensive coordinator, though some believe Redskins' secondary coach Jerry Gray, who interviewed to replace Zorn last month, might also receive consideration. Gray would have strong support from players and from some members of the front office.
A league source also said that Bob Slowik, Shanahan's defensive coordinator in 2008, would likely join the Washington staff, though not as a coordinator. The source said Shanahan had not spoken yet with Zimmer.