The Washington Football Team was expected to bring in several free agents on Monday for a workout, hoping to find a few players that could improve the bottom of their roster.
However, after multiple teams had players test positive for coronavirus over the weekend, Washington had second thoughts about holding the workout and ended up eventually canceling it.
During his weekly Monday press conference, Washington head coach Ron Rivera told reporters why the team decided not to hold the scheduled workout session.
"We wanted to, but we said: ‘Let’s take a break. Let’s take a step backward and let’s review the process and let’s talk to the league also,'" Rivera said. "We will have discussions with the league about this. We just want to make sure and get it right, so we did that."
The head coach stated multiple times throughout his answer that he felt bad having to turn away the players expected to work out for the team, but ultimately believes it was the safe and right call to do so.
"We apologized. We as an organization apologized to the players we brought out. This was a legitimate tryout," Rivera said. "We’re constantly shaking the bottom of our roster, the bottom of our practice squad, to see if we can find players. Unfortunately, we had to turn some guys away and we truly do apologize to those young men."
In a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay, Rivera said that another factor that went into canceling the workout had to do with the lack of COVID-19 testing the players coming to work out have received.
Since said players are currently free agents, they have not been subject to the daily coronavirus testing the way every player currently on an active roster or practice squad has.
"These guys aren't testing daily like we are with our players. That's the thing you have to be careful with," Rivera told Finlay. "Basically, you're bringing in guys, who knows where they've been? You have to be very careful with those guys. Most of them don't have what's at stake what the players in your bubble have."
Rivera also told Finlay that the team has a "penalty system" in place, one that ensures everyone on the team is properly following all the protocols that go into conducting an NFL season amidst a pandemic.
Washington has not had a player or staff member test positive in weeks, and the head coach credited head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion, who also is serving the temporary role as the team's lead Infectious Control Officer, as to why.
"He’s done a great job, he really has. He’s stayed on top of the rules," Rivera said. "In fact, every meeting that we have with the league and the NFLPA he has stayed on top of that. We’ve tried to really reinforce what the rules are because you tend to get lax. You get tested every day, everybody’s been negative so far which is awesome, but you get lax so you have to have somebody that’s always kind of kneeling everybody and that’s what Ryan’s been doing for us, trying to keep us vigilant."
So far, so good for Washington. But Rivera knows that if the team does get lax with following the protocols, a breakout similar to the one Tennessee is going through right now is a real possibility.
"You have to be vigilant. If you’re not, something crazy might happen," Rivera said.