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Ron Rivera, Kyle Smith Have A Plan To Bring In "Tough, Hungry" Players This Offseason


Free agency is officially set to begin on Wednesday at 4 p.m., while "legal tampering" between teams and players with expiring contracts is already in full swing. Many of the top free agents are already off the board, as franchises have been aggressive in trying to set themselves up for the future.

The Redskins are not among that group just yet. There have been reports that they are allegedly interested in players, but there has been nothing official. Fans are anxiously awaiting what their first move will be.

That's how head coach Ron Rivera and vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith want it. Together, they have spent the past two months planning how they want to improve their roster. Whatever moves the Redskins make will come with that goal in mind

"It's a collaborative deal," Smith said during his introductory press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February. "We're going to have the meetings, let the process unfold. We believe in our process."

Rivera already laid out the type of players he wants on his new roster during his introductory press conference in January. He said he wants players who are "tough, hungry, who will do whatever it takes to win." Those players must be willing to play that way into the postseason and hopefully into the Super Bowl.

"It's going to be made of good, quality young football players and solid veteran leadership to help us take this football team to the next level," Rivera said of the roster.

One month after Rivera made that proclamation, he met with the scouting department and his new coaching staff to "set the core" of players already on the roster who they could build around in the offseason. This was also done to identify areas of need they could address in free agency and the draft, which is still set to take place in April despite the Coronavirus outbreak.

That work was finished by the time the combine had begun. Smith wouldn't let reporters in on which positions the Redskins would be targeting, but he did say "we've got a good idea."

Whatever comes next will be decided on by Rivera and Smith together, which Smith said has come "pretty natural" from the moment they had their first meeting at Redskins owner Dan Snyder's house.

"We kind of meshed it together and we'll move forward together," Smith said. "We work well together."

After talking with Smith, Rivera believes there are plenty of players out there to meet some of the Redskins' needs, but they still have to fit the mold of their requirements.

"The big mistake that you've got to be careful [with] is that you don't try to fill all [your needs] just to fill them," Rivera said. "You've got to make sure you're filling them with quality, and that's one of the things we talked about as far as free agency."

Rivera is not a coach who believes in a five-year rebuilding plan; he said he doesn't have the patience for it. He wants to win now. Improving the roster through free agency is a part of that, but Rivera wants to make sure he brings in the right type of player.

"The best team has a great sense of family," he said. "The best family has a great culture and within that culture, there's tremendous character. And that's what we've got to build. We've got to build that."

Aside from being quality people off the field, Rivera said he likes players who can play in multiple positions. He's had that in the past with running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Shaq Thompson. Their ability to be placed all over the field made them "invaluable" for game plans.

"Those are the kind of guys you want," Rivera said. "You want that position flexibility."

Although neither Rivera and Smith haven't listed any specific positions, one can guess based on which Redskins players are set to hit the open market on Wednesday. The team recently placed their franchise tag on Brandon Scherff, but that still leaves the other guard position open.

Other positions they could address include tight end, linebacker, cornerback and free safety, and the Redskins currently have the 13th-most cap space in the NFL ($44.7 million), according to Spotrac.

Those two factors don't necessarily mean they will be big spenders this offseason, but Smith said the team will always be aggressive trying to improve the roster.

"We evaluate everybody, both in free agency and the draft. … You can start off by saying we need XYZ, but [if] all of a sudden a high-value target becomes available, you've got to attack it."

The Redskins have already made two moves before free agency. In addition to franchising Scherff, they also exercised their club option on Adrian Peterson to bring him back for another season.

Many of the top-tier free agents will already be off the board by the time the league year begins, but it's clear that Rivera and Smith have a plan for how to address that, even if they're moving in silence.

"The less people know what we're doing, the better things will be for us," Rivera said.

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