(By John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

In the weeks after the Redskins first learned of their $36 million salary cap penalty in March of 2012, then-Coach Mike Shanahan did not offer much in the way of a response. The day after the news leaked, Washington’s only response came via a Bruce Allen statement. Weeks later, Shanahan remained mum. Via Maske in late March of 2012:

Shanahan refused to directly answer questions about the $36 million salary cap reduction levied against the Redskins by the NFL. The Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, who lost $10 million in cap space, have challenged the sanctions via arbitration. Both teams have two years to absorb the cuts. Shanahan said the Redskins found out about their salary cap cut shortly before free agency began.

And how, exactly, did they find out about that cut? Via Adam Schefter, of course. Check out this fascinating excerpt from Rick Maese’s profile of the ESPN reporter.

In March 2012, Schefter called Mike Shanahan, then the Redskins coach. The two have a friendly relationship that dates from 1990. The reporter had heard from a source that the Redskins would be hit with $36 million in salary cap deductions for front-loading player contracts during the uncapped 2010 season.

“I said, ‘Get out of here! They can’t do that,’ ” Shanahan recalled. “He said, ‘It’s all approved, the commissioner signed off.’ He’s the one that tells me that news. I was convinced he was wrong. I take it to the other guys in the building — nobody had any idea.”

So how did that conversation go? Here’s Schefter, remembering the call.

“I go, ‘Mike, 36 million?’ He goes, 36 million what?’ I go, ‘You’re losing $36 million.’ He says, ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ’18 and 18, this year and next.’ He said, ‘Let me go talk to Bruce.’ That was it. He had no idea. I don’t think anybody in the building had any idea.”

And here’s Shanahan, again, talking to Maese.

“Something like that is a unique story. How does he get that information? I was saying, why don’t we get that information first? I told him, ‘That’s impossible. You got bad info.’ ‘He said, ‘I’m just telling you it’s gonna be $18 million for the next two years.’ I mean, $36 million, that’s our plan for the next two years….Usually you put a plan together, you put a three-to-four year plan together knowing what’s ahead, how much money you’ve got. To have something like that and to get it from guy in press — and then you don’t even know until hour before free agency….”

It is hard to believe, indeed. Someone who was in the building at the time recalled Shanahan reacting about how you’d expect.

Indeed, as the 2013 season swirled down the drain, Shanahan made repeated references to the limitations imposed by that penalty, and to the coming freedom.

“You don’t have the type of depth,” he said in November. “But you’re able to put a very solid football team together. And in the future, it will get better because we do have the ability to get more depth. We’ve got the ability to add some players on both sides of the football, and that gives you a chance to get better as a football team.”

Incidentally, Shanahan also spoke to the vague sense in Washington over the past four years that Schefter was a mouthpiece for the Redskins’ head coach.

“He was not only a hard worker. but he’s a guy with a lot of integrity,” Shanahan told Maese. “People always thought I talked with Adam — when he was at the NFL Network, ESPN. People don’t understand, a guy like that, he’s in his own world. He finds out things before anybody….

“People will ask me, when’s the last time you talked to Adam,” Shanahan said later. “I’ll say, maybe a month or two ago. One thing he’d never do, which I thought was unique, he’d never try to ask me a question about football. Never. He did not want to be accused of getting it from me. And he has all these others connections.”

Anyhow, read the full profile here.