PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Washington Redskins' salary cap situation, weakened by an $18 million penalty for 2012, has affected their ability to sign free agents this offseason, coach Mike Shanahan intimated Wednesday.
Shanahan at the NFL annual meetings stayed united with owner Daniel Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen in declining to comment on the arbitration process. The team is disputing the penalty, which was imposed by the NFL and agreed upon by the players association.
"Right now, I'm not allowed to talk about it," Shanahan said. "Believe me, I'd like to, but I can't."
Shanahan, however, seemed agitated the Redskins received official notice of the penalty "an hour before" the start of free agency March 13.
The league docked Washington $18 million in each of the next two seasons for restructuring contracts to dump payments into the uncapped 2010 season.
The Redskins expected to enter free agency with approximately $36 million in cap space. Instead, that was cut in half.
Washington signed receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in the opening hours of free agency but failed to land wide receiver Eddie Royal. Shanahan dined with Royal, who he drafted in Denver, on the night of March 13. But 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," Shanahan said.
Also, 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."
More Williams fallout?
Shanahan isn't worried the NFL might discipline the Redskins for any illegal non-contract bonus payment program that might have existed under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, he said Wednesday.
However, Shanahan acknowledged that sanctions are possible, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell vowed Monday to continue the league's investigation of bounty programs.
Williams is suspended indefinitely from the NFL because he ran a bounty program while serving as the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, his employer from 2008 through 2011.
He served as the Redskins' defensive coordinator from 2004 through 2007. Five players and one former assistant coach told The Washington Post last month that Williams ran a non-contract bonus payment program while in Washington. Former Redskins safety Matt Bowen detailed the program in a piece he wrote for the Chicago Tribune.
It would be up to the league to distinguish between such an illegal bonus-payment system and an illegal 'bounty' system that rewarded injuring opponents, and then determine any penalties.
"They've got to go through the process," Shanahan said. "You go back through every place that somebody has been. You know exactly what happened."
The NFL has interviewed Redskins director of player development Phillip Daniels, who played for Washington during Williams' tenure, Shanahan said.
"I think Phillip Daniels' quote was best," Shanahan said, 'He said, 'I was at every meeting - every meeting - and I can guarantee you nothing like that went on.' That's a guy that was in all those meetings. That's about all I can say about it."
The Redskins likely will host training camp at team headquarters in Ashburn, Shanahan said. The team has explored out-of-town options, including Richmond.
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