The NFL Players Association sent a formal request to the NFL for more information about Washington placing head trainer Ryan Vermillion on administrative leave after the Drug Enforcement Administration raided the team’s facility last week.
“We believe this situation directly impacts player health and safety,” the union said Wednesday in a statement. “The NFLPA insisted on language in our collective bargaining agreement that obligates clubs to adhere to all state and federal laws and regulations. We look forward to learning more so we can protect our players.”
The team said Vermillion was placed on leave due to an ongoing criminal investigation that was “unrelated to the team.” Federal law officials searched the team’s facility and Vermillion’s home last Friday as part of the investigation, a source said. Vermillion has not been charged with a crime.
Vermillion was one of coach Ron Rivera’s first hires when coming to Washington in 2020. The two spent eight-plus years together with the Carolina Panthers and as a whole, Vermillion was the Panthers’ trainer for 18 years.
The team added “director of sports medicine” to Vermilion’s title after last season.
Rivera told 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday that he was not around when the DEA searched the facility, telling the station he was out getting his car washed. He has largely avoided speaking about Vermillion beyond the team’s statement, though did note the trainer’s help during his cancer battle last year in a recent interview with NBC Sports Washington.
“I know who Ryan is and last year I trusted Ryan with my health and I would do it again,” Rivera told the outlet.
With Vermillion sidelined, the team brought back former team trainer Bubba Tyer on a volunteer basis. Tyer, who was with the franchise for 37 years before retiring in 2009, was spotted at practice Wednesday. Rivera said Tyer “came in to help out.” The team has not said who will lead the training staff with Vermillion on leave.
Safety Landon Collins, Washington’s union rep, said he and teammates were surprised to learn that the DEA is investigating Vermillion. He said as a team “we back R.V.” and expressed support for Vermillion, who he worked closely with last year when recovering from a torn Achilles.
“Great guy, humble guy, very respectful,” Collins said of Vermillion. “Helped me out in a lot of situations, especially with my injury coming back. Just a great guy overall.”
Washington’s injuries, meanwhile, have started to mount. The team placed tight end Logan Thomas on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and six other players missed practice: Wide receiver Dyami Brown (knee), running back Antonio Gibson (shin), linebacker Cole Holcomb (shoulder), wide receiver Curtis Samuel (groin), guard Brandon Scherff (knee) and wide receiver Cam Sims (hamstring).
To replace Thomas on the roster, Washington signed former Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger.
Six other players were limited: Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen (knee), safety Deshazor Everett (knee), defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (knee), running back J.D. McKissic (ankle), defensive end James Smith-Williams (toe) and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (concussion).
“It’s pretty obvious that you come out there and see practice and you go, ‘Wow, we’re thin out there,’” McLaurin said.