Jansen signed with the Detroit Lions a few hours later.
The 33-year-old Jansen, who came to Washington as the team’s second-round choice in the 1999 draft, the last one before Snyder assumed control, didn’t miss a snap in practice or a game during his first five seasons. However, Jansen was hurt in each of the past five seasons and as his body wore out, he fell out of favor with longtime line coach Joe Bugel and Jim Zorn, who replaced head coach Joe Gibbs last season. Zorn benched Jansen last summer in favor of youngster Stephon Heyer, but Jansen wound up finishing the season as the starting right tackle.
“It hurts,” Jansen said of being let go. “If I had been here three, four, five years it might not have been so emotional, but I’ve been here for a decade and made so many friends. I thought I would have the opportunity to compete during training camp, but I wasn’t in their plans.”
The Redskins cut Jansen even though it will cost more to do on their salary cap than it would to have kept him as a backup. That’s how much Zorn and Bugel wanted to move on with Heyer and perhaps offseason acquisitions Mike Williams and Jeremy Bridges at right tackle.
Snyder dispatched his private plane to bring Jansen in from Michigan to deliver the bad news in person.
“Throughout the offseason, the minicamp and the [organized team activities], I wanted to solidify the position, and there just wasn’t any change in Jon,” Zorn said. “It wasn’t easy for me to say that to him, and I know it wasn’t easy to hear.”
Jansen was out of work just a few hours. He agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum with the Lions on Friday afternoon. The contract is contingent on Jansen passing a physical on Monday.
“I’m besides myself with excitement,” said Jansen, who grew up in suburban Detroit and makes his offseason home three hours north in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Jansen’s old Michigan teammate, Jeff Backus, is the Lions’ left tackle. Jansen will compete on the right side with 2008 first-round draft choice Gosder Cherilus, who struggled as a rookie. Jansen knows strength coach Jason Arapoff and trainer Al Bellamy from his rookie year with the Redskins. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is an ex-Redskins cornerback.
And it didn’t escape Jansen’s notice that the Redskins visit the Lions again this season.
“Third week,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve got it on my calendar.”