“Everything is an option,” said Rivera, who already has spoken to Tagovailoa. “We’re not closing the door on anything. One of the things that [Vice President of Player Personnel] Kyle [Smith] and I talked about is we have to go through the process because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what’s going to happen in front of you, and you don’t know what’s going to happen with you.”
The Redskins also have interviewed Young, who is considered by many people to be the best prospect in this year’s draft class.
Though Rivera has complimented Haskins in the two months since he was hired as Washington’s coach, he also has stressed that he won’t hand him the starting job. He has said that he wants Alex Smith — if he can return to full health after the devastating leg injury he suffered in 2018 — or another quarterback to compete with Haskins.
“Quarterback is a position you’ve got to have competition in,” said Rivera, who essentially had one starting quarterback, Cam Newton, during his time as the Carolina Panthers’ head coach.
When pressed on how tough he wants that competition to become, Rivera smiled and said, “Very competitive competition.”
“We have a very good young player, okay?” Rivera said when asked how much he likes Haskins. “The more we break down about him, the more we learn about him, I think it puts us in a pretty good spot. I am excited about him. One thing I have seen is his commitment. He’s been around a lot. When I make my rounds during the day, I’ll walk by the weight room, there he is. I’ll walk by the locker room, there he is. That, to me, is the sign of a young man that is learning he needs to be around.”
Still, Rivera seems focused on building a team that can quickly contend for an NFC East title. On Wednesday, he spoke a lot about culture and seeking talented players. He said he and his staff have identified the core players already on their roster to build around, ranking the team’s best units and coming up with a plan to fill the gaps through free agency and the draft. He gave no hints on who he might be seeking when free agency starts next month, and he said he and his coaches like the team’s current free agents — a group that includes guards Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers, linebacker Jon Bostic and quarterbacks Case Keenum and Colt McCoy.
He did not say whether the team will use the franchise tag on Scherff, something it can do this week to keep him from reaching unrestricted free agency. He would not say how far talks have progressed with left tackle Trent Williams (who missed last season), other than to say, “We’re in a good place, had a good conversation, and we’re going to go from there.”
Rivera was a little more blunt about cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who has asked for a trade and is threatening not to come to offseason workouts unless he gets a new contract. The coach said he has talked to Dunbar, describing the conversation as “great,” but added that Dunbar must “come out and show me” in those workouts that he deserves to be “rewarded” with a new deal.
Mostly, though, Rivera talked about changing the team’s culture, doing so while trying to build a winning team in a short period of time. He emphasized the uncertainty of the second pick, even as much of the NFL seems certain he is picking Young. He said he will attend Burrow’s and Tagovailoa’s workouts Thursday night as well as Young’s on Saturday (though ESPN reported that Young will not work out) and that of “the corner,” presumably a reference to Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah, who is seen as a potential top-five pick and is scheduled to work out Sunday.
“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.”
Tagovailoa might be the most intriguing of all those prospects. Once seen as the near-certain No. 1 pick, he dislocated his hip and fractured his posterior wall in a Nov. 16 game against Mississippi State. The injury was so severe that some speculated it could be career-ending. But Tagovailoa said Tuesday that his doctors expect to clear him for football activities next month and that he will be able to work out for teams in the weeks before the draft.
Even if the Redskins aren’t interested in drafting Tagovailoa, several teams, including the Miami Dolphins, who choose fifth, might want to trade for the second pick to be sure they get him. That means Rivera could receive an offer of draft choices that could be too rich to turn down.
“Again, as I’ve said, everything is an option,” Rivera said.