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Report (sort of): Shanahan wanted to stay put for Tannehill

Mike Shanahan, Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan watches quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, left, and Rex Grossman, right, during an organized team activity for the NFL football team on Monday, May 21, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


My Friday morning four-city ISDN radio tour, via a connection so clear that people like Rob Gronkowski may think I own a time machine, goes from Houston to Miami to Buffalo to Dallas.

Today’s final stop, with Shan and RJ of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, included a mention from the hosts of a recent tweet suggesting that Washington coach Mike Shanahan wanted to draft quarterback Ryan Tannehill, not Robert Griffin III.

After my time machine brought me back to West Virginia, I started researching the issue. As it turns out, Bomani Jones of ESPN and elsewhere said Monday on Twitter that Stephen A. Smith of ESPN “says he has sources who say shanahan wanted tannehill, rather than trade up for griffin.”

The Redskins held the sixth pick in the 2012 draft. They sent that pick, a second-round pick, and two future first-round picks to St. Louis for the ability to move up to No.2.

While Smith doesn’t specifically cover the NFL, he’s in a sufficiently prominent position to be privy to things that the average person wouldn’t know. So if Smith is indeed hearing now from a reliable source that Shanahan wanted Tannehill in April 2012, what does it possibly mean?

It means that Shanahan could be trying either to save his job in D.C., or to lay the foundation for his next job elsewhere.

Though many believe that Shanahan hand-picked G.M. Bruce Allen and that Shanahan both cooks the meal and buys the groceries, Allen was actually hired first. It’s possible (but highly unlikely) that Allen made the call to trade up for Griffin over the objection of Shanahan, who wanted to take Tannehill and keep the extra picks.

It’s also possible (and less highly unlikely) that owner Daniel Snyder forced Griffin onto both Shanahan and Allen.

Under the Shanahan-wanted-Tannehill theory, if there’s any truth to it, the decision to take quarterback Kirk Cousins in round four of the 2012 draft becomes even more intriguing. Perhaps Shanahan insisted on having a Gus Frerotte ready to go in the event Griffin ended up being another Heath Shuler.

The more likely explanation is that Shanahan now knows the bell will soon be tolling for him, and that he needs to craft a narrative that will help get him the Andy Reid treatment in January, with an owner of a downtrodden franchise concluding that a consistently successful coach like Shanahan is the guy to come in and instantly turn things around.

Shanahan possibly has begun this process by publicly pointing on Monday to the $36 million in cap penalties. Though he mentioned that dynamic as reason to expect improvement in 2014, it’s not a stretch to see it as the identification of an excuse for poor performance in 2013.

The absence of a second-round pick in 2012, a first-round pick in 2013, and a first-round pick in 2014, coupled with the need to use a fourth-round pick not on other positions but on a potentially capable backup to a potential bust, makes it even harder for Shanahan to thrive in Washington.

Even if Shanahan didn’t want Tannehill, floating the notion that he did could help Shanahan find a suitor for 2014. Reid’s instant success in Kansas City will make certain members of the FFCA even more attractive. With plenty of teams destined to be looking for coaches soon -- and with Daniel Snyder possibly one of them -- it’s never too early for Shanahan to start getting the attention of billionaires who tend to know who they want to hire well before they decide to fire the guys who are currently coaching their teams.