- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS | Veteran or rookie, No. 1 pick or not, Ron Rivera reiterated Wednesday that when it comes to the Redskins’ up-in-the-air quarterback situation, no one right now is the frontrunner — including incumbent starter Dwayne Haskins.

After telling reporters Washington would meet with top quarterback prospects Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa this week at the NFL scouting combine, the Redskins coach, who has been notoriously noncommittal about Haskins, the team’s 2019 first-rounder, did say he was “excited” about the 22-year-old’s offseason development.

“We have a very good young player, OK?” Rivera said. “The more we break down about him, the more we learn about him, I think it puts us in a pretty good spot.”

But the Redskins, he said, will explore who else is out there. 

Rivera said nothing has been ruled out in regards to the Redskins’ No. 2 spot in April’s draft — including taking another quarterback.

Even if the Redskins don’t draft a new signal-caller this spring, Rivera said he wants a “very competitive” quarterback competition for Haskins.

Visiting with Burrow and Tagovailoa, the first-year Redskins coach said, is more than a matter of due diligence.

“Everything is an option,” Rivera said, who noted he had already talked with Tagovailoa. “We’re not closing the door on anything. … We’re going to look at everybody.”

Rivera complimented Haskins’ work ethic, noting the 22-year-old has been a fixture at the team facility since season’s end (team executive Doug Williams said earlier this month that Haskins needed to stay in the building until coaches kicked him out). 

Rivera also praised Haskins’ Nov. 24 performance against the Detroit Lions, in which the quarterback helped engineer a fourth-quarter comeback.

But Rivera again emphasized Haskins was not anointed — “That’s for doggone sure,” he said.

Every position on the roster will be up for grabs.

“You just don’t know, so we’re going to prepare,” Rivera said. “We’re going to get ourselves ready, we’re going to, obviously, look at some of the other players.”

Those players include Burrow and Tagovailoa, the last two Heisman Trophy winners. Burrow is expected to go first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, and if that happens, Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young is seen as the obvious No. 2 pick. Rivera said Washington will also meet with Young.

Rivera, too, was asked about the possibility of trading back in the draft. 

He didn’t dismiss the idea, though he said he didn’t think teams would be willing to meet the price Washington is asking for what would, presumably, be the right to draft Young, considered by many to be a once-in-a-generation defensive talent.

If the Redskins don’t draft a quarterback, they will still likely have to bring in another passer. Alex Smith, recovering from a gruesome 2018 leg injury, is progressing in his rehab, but Rivera said “we’ll see” when asked if the 35-year-old was expected to contribute this spring or in training camp.

If Smith can’t go, the Redskins will be in the market for another quarterback.

There are expected to be a number of options, from trade candidates like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton to free agents like Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. There are also veterans like Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota who are to sign withnew teams.

The Redskins have money to spend in free agency, with an estimated $61 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap. Rivera said he is more concerned about spending that money on quality players than using it to solely fill needs.

Rivera, though, said he wants to build a team that can compete as soon as next year.

Since being hired in January, the 58-year-old has repeatedly discussed changing the team’s culture. Rivera recalled Wednesday how military groups have told him it can take three-to-five years to transform a culture. But Rivera appears to be on a faster timetable than that.

“Our plan is to be competitive as quickly as we can,” Rivera said. “We’re not here to wallow around … We’re here to try and do it the right way. And if it takes a year, great. If it takes two, great. But our intent is to get it turned around as quickly as we can. But the right way.”



• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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