The Washington Times - March 28, 2012, 10:13AM

PALM BEACH, Fla. | Redskins coach Mike Shanahan met with reporters Wednesday morning at the NFC coaches’ breakfast at the NFL annual meetings here. They were his first public comments since the Senior Bowl in late January. Shanahan spoke for 64 minutes, addressing topics big and small.

Regarding the $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the NFL, the Redskins “found out an hour before” the start of free agency on March 13, Shanahan said.

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News of the penalty broke the day before, but the Redskins didn’t hear official word from the league until later. Washington was docked $18 million in 2012 salary cap space as part of the sanction.

Shanahan stayed united with owner Daniel Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen in declining to comment on the arbitration process through which the team is disputing the penalty. He vowed to speak about the matter after it has been resolved. No date has been set for the hearing.

Shanahan also would not comment on how the penalty has impacted the Redskins’ offseason plan to add players, but it’s quite clear it has.

Most notably, inside linebacker London Fletcher remains unsigned.

“I can’t get into detail; all I can say is we want him,” Shanahan said. “There’s conversations ongoing between agents. That’s part of the process. We’ll let that take its course, but I’m hoping he’s part of our organization, and I expect him to be.”

The Redskins also targeted free-agent wide receiver Eddie Royal, who dined with Redskins’ brass early in free agency. Washington never had an agreement with him, Shanahan said, and Royal signed with San Diego. “You’ve got to make some tough decisions relative to the cap.”

Here’s thinking those decisions would be easier with an additional $18 million in cap space.