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Ron Rivera is building his Redskins coaching staff, but the front office may take longer

New Redskins coach Ron Rivera has moved quickly to build a lot of his coaching staff, but the question of who will be in his front office remains. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Less than a week after becoming the Washington Redskins’ head coach, Ron Rivera is close to filling most of the key positions on his coaching staff. But two big questions remain: Who will be in charge of molding quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and who will be Rivera’s general manager?

Many coaches, executives and agents around the NFL believe Rivera soon will have an offensive coordinator and it could be the team’s current coordinator, Kevin O’Connell. But O’Connell is also believed to be a candidate to join the staff of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels if McDaniels is hired as head coach of another team. Rivera has contacted Pat Shurmur, who recently was fired as head coach of the New York Giants, about Washington’s coordinator job if things don’t work out with O’Connell.

People around the NFL are less certain about what Rivera will do with the front office.

When owner Daniel Snyder announced Rivera’s hire last week, he said he wanted an organization in which the head coach would be the primary voice. Rivera described the setup as “coach-centric.” While many people who know Rivera say he is a bright coach and rave about his honesty, they are quick to say his success will depend heavily on whom he picks as his top personnel person. Some say they expect him to name someone quickly, while others say they think he will keep the current group of vice presidents Eric Schaffer and Doug Williams, pro scouting director Alex Santos and college scouting director Kyle Smith in place through April’s draft before making front-office decisions.

“There’s a lot of reasons to do that,” said former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum, an NFL analyst for ESPN. “There’s efficiencies. There’s certainly a delegation of responsibilities and then bring somebody in who can support Coach Rivera’s vision and go out and procure talent that fits his vision for what he wants. . . . It fosters an environment of trust and candid discourse. I think there’s a lot of efficiencies to that.”

At his introductory news conference Thursday, Rivera said he wants to meet with the four core front-office members to see how they can work together. As of this past weekend, many in the front office had little clarity as to their standing with Rivera or his plans for their jobs.

A person familiar with the situation said that Snyder talked to former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith in November about running the franchise, but Smith has told people he isn’t ready to come back to football after his wife’s death from breast cancer last year. Snyder then began his pursuit of Rivera in early December, just after Rivera had been fired as coach of the Carolina Panthers. Snyder and Smith have not been in contact since, the person said.

Redskins hire a new trainer, part of Ron Rivera’s plan to bring back Trent Williams

Louis Riddick, a former NFL player, scout and executive who serves as an NFL analyst for ESPN, has been a leading front-office candidate, people familiar with the team’s planning have said.

For now, though, Rivera is building his coaching staff.

Rivera has met with O’Connell, and a person with knowledge of the situation said O’Connell “is still working things out” with Rivera. O’Connell is close to McDaniels, who is supposed to interview with the Giants, Panthers and Cleveland Browns for their head coach openings. If McDaniels takes one of those positions, O’Connell might want to join him.

Rivera also has interviewed Scott Turner, his offensive coordinator with Carolina, a person familiar with the interview said. Turner, the son of former Redskins coach Norv Turner, who was a special assistant to Rivera in charge of Carolina’s offense the past two years, could become Rivera’s coordinator in Washington if O’Connell leaves or become quarterbacks coach if O’Connell stays.

The Redskins also have spoken with Shurmur about the coordinator job. No interview has been scheduled, and a person with knowledge of the situation said Shurmur has heard from a number of teams about a possible role with their organizations.

Rivera is close to filling several other spots on his staff after making his first move the hiring of former Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio as his defensive coordinator. A person familiar with the situation confirmed an ESPN report that Panthers linebackers coach Steve Russ is joining Rivera’s staff. The Athletic reported Rivera is adding Carolina’s wide receivers coach Jim Hostler and offensive line coach John Matsko. Sirius XM NFL host Alex Marvez said Sunday that Los Angeles Chargers assistant defensive backs coach Chris Harris will be Rivera’s secondary coach. The Athletic also reported that Carolina defensive line coach Sam Mills III will interview for the same position with Washington.

The Redskins would not confirm the hires.

Ryan Vermillion, the Panthers’ trainer, is leaving to become the Redskins’ trainer, replacing longtime trainer Larry Hess, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The person also said that Rivera hopes to use the training staff’s overhaul as a way to convince star left tackle Trent Williams to return to the team.

More Redskins coverage:

Svrluga: Ron Rivera is a solid, smart football man … but that’s often not enough in Washington

Can Ron Rivera fix the Redskins? His former players think so.

Brewer: Ron Rivera is traditional, hard-nosed and just what the Redskins need