Ron Rivera played in the NFL long before he became a head coach, and that combination of perspectives will help him speak with disgruntled Redskins left tackle Trent Williams.
At least that's what legendary former Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs believes.
"I think Ron will do a good job of that. I think the thing that you've got with Ron is someone who's played in the NFL, he has real respect from the players when he talks," Gibbs told NBC Sports Washington (see video above). "If there's anything to do with talking to a player, I think Ron will have a good sense for that."
Speaking last week before the Super Bowl, Rivera explained that he wants to sit down and speak with Williams but that the tackle is "still our guy."
The situation between Williams and Washington is complicated. He sat out all of the 2019 season after a growth on his head turned into full-blown cancer, and Williams felt the organization did not properly diagnose or help find out the problem before it became life-threatening. In comments after the Redskins placed him on the non-football injury list late last fall, Williams made clear his disgust with former team president Bruce Allen and former head trainer Larry Hess.
Now, both Allen and Hess are gone. Rivera has overhauled the Redskins front office and the medical staff.
"Obviously there's some issues in the background they've got to resolve," Gibbs said of Williams. "But I think all Redskins fans — it's a big deal to everybody — and hopefully Ron can find a way to handle this."
So, with Allen and Hess out of the picture, can Williams come back to Washington? Money might be the biggest remaining issue.
When Williams spoke publicly for the first time last year, he talked about the medical situation and his distrust with the organization, but he also talked about the lack of guaranteed money in his contract.
For 2020, Williams counts nearly $15 million against the cap, but none of it is guaranteed. Odds are, Williams won't come back to the Redskins without a significant increase in guaranteed cash this season or a new multi-year contract.
Gibbs is right, however, that Rivera re-establishing a baseline of trust between Williams and the Redskins organization is the first step toward any reconciliation. And by all accounts, Rivera is the best man for that job.
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