Shanahan at training camp Aug. 1. (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Here’s the transcript of Shanahan’s press conference:

Opening statement:

“We know how much Chris has meant to this organization as well as this community, both on and off the football field. Since I have come here, he’s a guy that I would lean on quite often with his expertise of the organization as well as people involved. I’ve had many talks with him that have really helped me with the insight of our football team and our players.”

On why he made the decision to release Cooley:

“Chris wants the opportunity to – at least in my thoughts – that he wants to be a starter in the National Football League, if he does play. I told him that Fred was going to be our starter. There obviously was no guarantees, but that if he wanted to be a starter, I would give him every option to seek that opportunity out, and that’s what we’re doing at this time: giving him every opportunity to see if there is a chance for him to be a starter on another team in the National Football League. I had many conversations with him over the past year – just general talks, sometimes more specific than others, but in essence, he’s going to get the opportunity to check to see if he can be a starter on another team.”

On how he came to this decision:

“There’s conversations that went on. I’m not going to reveal all the conversations we had. At the end, he wants to be a starter. He wants to start for a football team, and he’s going to pursue those options.”

On whether Cooley has a chance to return if he doesn’t find a starting job:

“There’s a lot of options. I’m not going to go through all those options, but we’re talking about the present option, what’s going on right now. You don’t know what happens day-by-day, yet a week in advance. We could lose two, three tight ends this weekend. But out of fairness to him, and what he’s done for this organization and what he’s meant, he shouldn’t have to wait for the end to make our final decision if that’s what he’d like to do, even if it puts us in a tough situation if we lose one or two guys, but he’s earned that right.”

On the difficulty of making this decision:

“Any time you deal with people like Chris, a veteran who’s accomplished both on and off the football field, it’s very, very tough to talk about things like this, but it’s something that happens to a lot of players. It’s about as tough as it gets.”

On what Shanahan had observed in Cooley’s play this preseason:

“It really doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to give you some insight relative to what is Chris is thinking about doing now, going forward. I know he can play. I hope he gets that opportunity.”

On whether the decision was influenced by Cooley’s $6 million salary:

“We never talked about anything to do with money. We never talked about a reduction, we never talked about anything like that. I wouldn’t do that to a guy like him. . .He wants to start, he wants to play, and we’ll see if he gets that opportunity.”

On whether he would still want Cooley as a reserve if Cooley wanted to return:

“There’s a lot of scenarios that could still occur, and I’m not going to get into the specifics. … There are a lot of scenarios that could happen this week. Chris wants to start, he wants to play, and he’s done a lot to prove that he can play. He came back in excellent shape.”

The Redskins often use – and often start games with -- two-tight end sets. Wouldn’t that mean Cooley still would have received a large number of snaps?

“There’s a lot of possibilities. I can’t talk about what would’ve happened. But the main thing is, Chris wants to be a starter in the National Football League. And when you want to be a starter, and you see Fred as the starter, what is your role going to be if you’re second team or third team, or someone rolls an ankle? I don’t know what’s going to happen this weekend. It’s very, very tough to go through a process like this, and we wish Chris the best when he does get that opportunity to start, and I think he has a good chance to get that opportunity.”

How much of the decision was tied to last season’s knee injury?

“I’ve told you before that he practiced well, and he played well and I think he’s got an opportunity to start in the National Football League. He’s healthy, and we’ll see how it plays out.”

On losing a leader and mentor to the other tight ends:

“Any time you lose a leader, it’s tough. It’s tough, no question about it. Guys have to step up and play. But I thought it was right to give Chris an opportunity to do what he wanted to do. I think he deserves that right.”

On the risk of cutting Cooley when Fred Davis is a failed drug test away from a year-long suspension:

“It’s a risky move. We could lose two tight ends this week. It’s always a risky move when you make a move that you don’t have to make. It’s always risky going into the last preseason game. But we did what we thought was right for him and the organization, and I wish him well.”

More on Cooley

D.C. Sports Bog: Cooley’s bloggiest moments

Redskins release Chris Cooley