Rivera on not hiring Smith as GM: 'Opportunity to start fresh'

Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith

As Ron Rivera tried to handle numerous football operation roles -- while simultaneously battling cancer -- during the 2020 NFL season, he realized that moving forward he needed some help. He and the organization could benefit from bringing in someone with front office experience to serve as the general manager.

That someone, however, was not Kyle Smith.

Despite the former Washington executive spending 11 years with the franchise, manning the draft board for three years and earning praise from Rivera for his work in 2020, the head coach opted to bring in Martin Mayhew for the role while also adding Marty Hurney to the front office.

Why? To Rivera, sometimes the best thing for both sides is a fresh start. He learned that after spending nearly a decade with the Panthers before coming to Washington, and now believes Smith can do the same.

“Well in the big scheme of things for me, when you’re changing things and you look at things, I was in a place for nine seasons and quite honestly it was a great opportunity to start fresh," Rivera said.

“Kyle did a great job here, he really did. He did some really good things, he’d been part of some things that happened here. Just looking at it, I just thought it was an opportunity for us to go forward."

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Rivera is grateful for the work Smith put in during their time together and prior to that, but as he continues to try and take the organization to new heights and set a new culture, he felt that this was a necessary step to take.


A true believer in clean breaks and a change of scenery, Rivera is hoping that Smith thrives in his new role as vice president of player personnel for the Atlanta Falcons.

“Really happy for him that he got the Atlanta job," Rivera said. "I think it’s a great situation for him to start fresh and start new.”

Rivera said his decision making is only about the team. At the end of the day, he is doing what he feels puts the team on the right path.

“As we go forward I’m going to make decisions that I think are best for us because I believe they help us," Rivera said.