The Washington Redskins reached an agreement to hire Ryan Vermillion, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, as their head athletic trainer, and they intend to use the overhaul of their training staff as a key element of Coach Ron Rivera’s attempt to get star left tackle Trent Williams to return to the team, according to a person familiar with the situation.
“One of Ron’s top goals is to get Trent back,” the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the Redskins had not announced the staff addition. “I know for certain that Ron is going to try to get him back.”
The deal with Vermillion was completed Friday night, the person said. Vermillion replaces Larry Hess, the Redskins’ longtime head athletic trainer who was not retained when Rivera was hired as coach.
Rivera, who completed a deal Tuesday with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and is being given broad authority within the organization, formerly worked with Vermillion with the Panthers. Vermillion is said to have a very good reputation within the league, among players and with the NFL Players Association.
“This is good for player health and safety,” the person said.
Williams is under contract to the Redskins for at least one more season after ending this season on the non-football injury list. He did not play at all this season and had a dispute with the team over his medical care. But with the changes to the training staff and the departure of Bruce Allen as team president, Rivera hopes to convince Williams to return.
Williams was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on his scalp last winter that he said was inside a growth the team’s medical staff ignored for several years. Angry about the cancer and what he described as poor general care by the trainers, he held out of training camp and the first half of the season, demanding to be traded. He returned just minutes before the Oct. 29 trade deadline after Washington did not deal him to another team.
The Redskins placed him on the non-football injury list a week later, ending his season. He said he was told to stay away from the team facility and would not be paid for the rest of the season, a move he called “vindictive.”
“I don’t see how it can be reconciled,” Williams said of his relationship with the team in an interview in late November. “At the end of the day, I’m a human being. I ain’t like a dog and you can slap the s--- out of me and I’m going to come back the next morning with my tail wagging. This was a conscious decision; they didn’t burn the bridge by accident. This was something they felt comfortable doing, so I got to feel comfortable with moving on, too.”
Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, one of Williams’s closest friends on the team, said the day after the season ended that he thought there was a chance Williams would return because Allen had been fired.
In addition to adding Vermillion, the Redskins have contacted former Giants coach Pat Shurmur about possibly becoming their offensive coordinator, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Current offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell has met with Rivera and may stay but is expected to have interest from other teams. No interview has been set up with Shurmur, the person said.
Shurmur had a pair of two-year runs as a head coach, first in Cleveland and then New York. He is 19-46 as a head coach but is a well-regarded coordinator with the Rams, Eagles and Vikings. Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan first reported Rivera’s interest in Shurmur.
The Athletic reported Saturday that Rivera agreed to hire two assistants from his former Panthers staff in offensive line coach John Matsko and wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and also was considering hiring former Carolina defensive line coach Sam Mills III.
The Redskins declined to comment on any of the possible coaching hires.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was the first assistant to join Rivera’s coaching staff. On Friday, Scott Turner, who most recently served as offensive coordinator for the Panthers, a position he was promoted to after Rivera was fired, was seen at Redskins Park for what was expected to be an interview for a spot on Rivera’s staff. Turner is a potential candidate for offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach. Rivera has the option of keeping Washington’s incumbent offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell, who is still under contract with the team.
Matsko was named the Panthers’ running game coordinator in 2016 after previously serving as offensive line coach for five seasons. Carolina was known for its powerful and diverse running game during Rivera’s tenure.
Hostler served just one season as the Panthers’ wide receivers coach after one season as passing game coordinator for the Green Bay Packers.
Mills spent 15 seasons in Carolina, the past two as defensive line coach.
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