Ron Rivera is at the NFL owners meetings along with other head coaches, GMs, executives, and of course the media. Today was Rivera’s turn to get behind the microphone and answer questions about the Washington Commanders approach to free agency, the Carson Wentz trade, the offseason and more.
LIVE: HC Ron Rivera speaks to the media https://t.co/WpB6mAaNEV— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) March 29, 2022
Washington has had a very slow free agency this year, and a big part of that was the Carson Wentz trade that happened before the the new league year started. Washington is also presumably protecting the projected 3rd round compensatory pick they are expected to receive for Brandon Scherff signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Washington is looking for the right people on the right deals (bargains). They are also expecting players to be available after the draft when veterans get cut loose in place of a team’s drafted players. There is also the May 2nd compensatory pick deadline that frees up teams to sign players that would otherwise have been eligible to cancel out their existing projected comp picks.
Ron Rivera says the Commanders are still working free agency “looking for the right kind of guys on the right kind of deals” pic.twitter.com/nV3CdbISex— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Ron Rivera on Washington’s ability to lure free agents - “I think it’s a lot better than people are portraying it”— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Rivera said they studied Carson Wentz’s past performances and knew what kind of potential player they were getting, and they are excited to work with him to get that player on the field for Washington. Rivera added that Wentz was a little shell shocked after getting traded for the 2nd time in two years, but said that he’s settled in now and ready to get to work. They are going to focus on protecting him, and also adding playmakers to the offense. He also talked about finding an impact player in the draft.
Rivera says that knowing how high Carson Wentz has performed in the past made Washington want to make the move. Says Wentz was “a little shell shocked” initially after the trade but everything has gone great since— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Rivera said Washington broke down a lot of Carson Wentz's tape before making the decision on him. After watching the game film from last year, he and the team feel confident they can bring out his potential— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) March 29, 2022
Building offense around Wentz:
Rivera says now that Wentz is on the team the focus becomes protecting him and adding skill position talent.— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
(Ed. note - I agree. You traded for him, go all in and put him in position to succeed)
Rivera was asked about one of his own free agents that caused some controversy during the legal tampering period. J.D. McKissic agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills, but ended up signing the same deal he had agreed to with Buffalo, bringing him back to Washington. Rivera said J.D. wanted to come back, and dismissed the criticism leveled at the team by Bills GM Brandon Beane. He was asked about the relationship with Beane and other people he (and Marty Hurney) had close relationships with during their time with the Carolina Panthers. Rivera simply said the relationships were okay, and moved it along to the next question.
J.D. McKissic/Buffalo Bills:
Asked about the JD McKissic situation and the Commanders relationship with the Bills, Rivera said “things are ok” with Buffalo— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Cole Holcomb has been an improving player in Washington since being drafted in the 5th round in 2019. You can read the case for signing the now veteran LB to an extension today, and Rivera and company obviously have big plans for him going forward. Martin Mayhew mentioned that Holcomb was in consideration for the vacant middle linebacker position, and now Rivera is confirming that he could get that nod after spending time evaluating the team since the season ended.
Veteran LB Cole Holcomb said after the season that he'd like to be play the "mike" for Washington and believes he'd be good at it.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) March 28, 2022
He might get his chance. This is what Martin Mayhew said today: pic.twitter.com/a9lcbsjvIL
Both Rivera and Mayhew are suggesting Cole Holcomb could emerge as the middle linebacker that Washington needs. Interesting— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Ron Rivera addressing the media at the league meetings. Said the team has done a deep evaluation on their own personnel, and he's really excited about Cole Holcomb and his future.— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) March 29, 2022
Ron River said he feels “really good” about what @ColeHolcomb_ has done. Said they got a clearer view of his development after they evaluated the full roster this offseason. Spoke highly of his play and his future with team.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) March 29, 2022
Offseason workouts will begin for Washington on April 18th, and will continue with different sessions in May and June. The team will hold training camp in July, but Rivera didn’t give many details about it. There have been reports that Richmond could still be in play, and the possibility of joint practices (the Bills have reportedly discussed them with the Commanders). Rivera pointed out that, with the NFL reducing the preseason to 3 games, guys need more opportunities to compete.
The Commanders offseason workout program will begin April 18.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) March 29, 2022
Rivera stressed the importance of this year's offseason program. He hopes that there will be good numbers during OTA, and he's looking forward to the possibility of having a "normal" offseason after the previous two years— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) March 29, 2022
Ron Rivera says Commanders are working on training camp plans but nothing firm on a return to Richmond this summer— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Ron Rivera says Washington is discussing joint practices, says now that there’s only 3 preseason games players need more work and opportunities to compete— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Chase Young infamously skipped OTAs last offseason to film commercials and “make money”
When asked about missing OTAs to shoot commercials -- and if that somehow has contributed to a slow start, Chase Young said, "I was making money baby. Got to make the money. None of you all would have ducked the money. It's a job, just like you all do your job I do my job."— John Keim (@john_keim) November 11, 2021
This was a big red flag for a lot of fans going into Young’s followup season after winning the NFL’s Defensive Rooke of the Year Award. The defense was a massive disappointment early in the season and fingers were pointed everywhere. Young and Montez Sweat kept catching heat from fans, media, and even coaches; but their play didn’t do anything to shut their critics up. Young tore his ACL and has been rehabbing ever since.
Rivera said that last season was like an awakening for Young, and a realization of the realities of the NFL. He has been impressed with how Young has been attacking the offseason and his recovery. Rivera says that the 3rd year edge rusher told him that he will be at OTAs, and Rivera expects him to be there as one of the young leaders on the team.
Ron Rivera said Chase Young “says he’s gonna be here” for the offseason work. “I’m excited to see him,” Rivera said. Also said he feels Young has been very focused. Said he feels Young had an awakening after last year…— John Keim (@john_keim) March 29, 2022
Rivera said 4 Chase Young '21 was "a little bit of an awakening, a little bit of a realization. I appreciate how focused he is; he really is attacking his offseason."— John Keim (@john_keim) March 29, 2022
Then:"For us, hopefully the realization we hadn't arrived has set in & that just showing up is not good enough."
Ron Rivera asked if he expects Chase Young to be a part of the team’s offseason work (he’s recovering from from an ACL injury): “In my conversations with him, he says he’s going to be here and I’m excited to have him here.”— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) March 29, 2022
Ron Rivera told reporters in Florida that Chase Young will be at OTAs. Young is recovering from knee surgery and has spent part of his rehab in Colorado.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) March 29, 2022
Rivera said the overtime rules are an ongoing discussion. He said he's more of a traditionalist, but he's willing to listen to other people's opinions. Based on what Rivera said, it sounds like there are plenty of thoughts on the issue— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) March 29, 2022
Winning changes perception:
Ron Rivera on the Commanders reputation: “We’re an easy target, I get it, and frankly, I’m tired of it….We have to win, that’s the truth of the matter.”— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Third year in Washington:
Rivera - “The third year is big and I expect us to take a step”— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) March 29, 2022
Diversity in coaching:
Rivera on increasing diversity in coaching staff positions: if you open the door to everyone, all walks of life, you're going to find the best candidate— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) March 29, 2022
Rivera said Sammis Reyes made a jump in his development last year, but his injury late in the season took away some of his opportunities. Added that the team is very excited about his potential— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) March 29, 2022
Head athletic trainer:
Rivera also said they are going to hire a head trainer and an assistant; sounds like they want to have them in place for when players return on April 18.— John Keim (@john_keim) March 29, 2022
Late round QB:
"I will say this: if there’s a guy sitting there, and I know we don’t have a (fifth-round pick), but if we did have a fifth, the question would be, does he fit that long-term, later in the years guy? But then if there’s another position that we like better, we’re not going to take a guy just to take him.”