The day after the Redskins' loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs, head coach Mike Shanahan made it clear he wanted to retain the core of his NFC East Championship team.
"You always want to have continuity, if you can. You want to have the right guys on your football team," he told the media at Redskins Park. "That is where our game plan is."
The strategy makes sense, as the Redskins rose from last place in the division in 2011 (5-11) to NFC East Conference Champions (10-6) for the first time in 13 years.
Last week, as the clock ticked down on the 2012 NFL league year, the Redskins had to make difficult personnel decisions to get under the reported $123 million salary cap.
The team placed restricted free agent tenders on five key players: fullback Darrel Young, long snapper Nick Sundberg, tight end Logan Paulsen, linebacker Rob Jackson and nose tackle Chris Baker.
Over the last week, Washington brass also retained unrestricted free agents Kory Lichtensteiger, Kedric Golston, Sav Rocca and Tyler Polumbus.
For Shanahan, this was the plan all along.
"You're always hoping that you can bring back the guys that are free agents," he said. "It doesn't always work out that way, but for any organization to have success, that is one of the keys.
"You're always trying to do what's best for the organization, sometimes what's best for the person as well, if they've made a commitment to you."
The group of returning Redskins accounted for a combined 133 game appearances with 63 starts.
Young, Paulsen, Jackson, Sundberg, Rocca, Polumbus and Lichtensteiger each finished the season at the top of their respective depth charts.
"We've signed a lot of restricted guys, guys that have come up and stepped up," Shanahan said. "They want to be here. It's very encouraging. Very young. I think we've got an excellent future in store.
"We've got a couple of bumps along the way here but we'll make it through."
In addition to retaining the core unit from last year, the Redskins have also improved the team's depth in free agency, bringing in veteran offensive tackles Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood to compete.
This was another pillar of Shanahan's plan entering the offseason.
"What you're trying to do is build on depth," he told the media. "When we first came in, we were an older football team. We went to free agency in the second year and we got a few quality guys that have really helped our football team.
"The salary cap, the way the NFL is structured, you have to do a great job with the young players. If you want to build a championship-type team, you have to excel in that area."
With quality free agents still available, the Redskins have opportunity to plug holes, but will need to be creative with salary cap space.
Specifically, Shanahan has expressed interest in retaining free agent tight end Fred Davis, but everything must fit with the team's offseason strategy.
"You've always got to plan everything you do. You deal with that plan, you deal with the elements," he explained. "It's not always a perfect scenario but we're going to deal with it.
"We've had some great draft choices, some excellent free agents. I like what we've got. As I've told you, we've got a lot of character on this football team, a lot of guys going in the same direction, so I look forward to the challenge."