Jansen was released after a morning meeting with owner Dan Snyder, front office chief Vinny Cerrato and coach Jim Zorn. Jansen and his wife were flown in Snyder's plane from their Michigan offseason home to Redskins Park, where the 33-year-old lineman was offered the chance to retire as a Redskins player.
"He means a lot to me, truly," Zorn said. "He's been a tremendous part of this program. I didn't want to just call him up and go 'Hey, I'm cutting you today.'"
When Jansen said he wanted to keep playing, the Redskins granted him his release, saying goodbye to a strong locker room leader rather than keep him as an expensive backup.
"What I had to do was weigh all those things together," Zorn said. "And I will tell you, it didn't come easy."
Jansen started 122 games for the Redskins, validating his nickname "Rock" by missing only one snap in his first five seasons while playing close to Pro Bowl level.
A ruptured Achilles' tendon in 2004, two broken thumbs in 2005, a torn calf muscle in 2006, a broken ankle in 2007 and a sprained knee in 2008 kept him off the field and hindered his skills. Jansen temporarily lost his starting job to Stephon Heyer last year, but he returned for this year's offseason workouts and organized team activities determined to show he could still play at a high level.
"He was going to prove to everybody that he could make the Pro Bowl and be an All-Pro player, and that's what we were hoping for as well," Zorn said. "At the minicamp and the OTAs, I didn't see that."
Jansen, however, questioned the timing of the Redskins' decision.
"My response was I would have hoped for a better chance at the OTAs and the minicamp and maybe some more reps," Jansen said in a telephone interview as he headed to the airport for the flight home. "I think that their mind was made up prior to that, and that's OK. I just wish it would have happened a little sooner. ... There would have been more jobs available, more money available."
The Redskins have three candidates to succeed Jansen at right tackle: third-year player Heyer and offseason signings Mike Williams and Jeremy Bridges.
Jansen, a second-round pick from Michigan in 1999, had two years remaining on a five-year, $23 million contract extension he signed in 2007. He said his agent has already heard from several teams.
"I'm not concerned about having a job," Jansen said. "I know I'll be able to land on my feet somewhere."