Cody Latimer's arrest tests Ron Rivera's culture rebuild of the Redskins

JP Finlay
NBC Sports Washington

The arrest report looks bad for Cody Latimer even if his lawyer asks that people "withhold judgment" on the incident. For the Redskins, and for Ron Rivera in particular, withholding judgment might not be an option. 

Rivera took over the Redskins in January and he promised to rebuild the culture of the Washington football team. 

Largely void of winning culture for the better part of 10 years under former team president Bruce Allen, Rivera came to Washington with an impressive on-the-field resume that included a Super Bowl appearance and being named the NFL Coach of the Year twice. Rivera's off-field reputation might even be better than that, with players and other leaguer executives calling him a man of high integrity and honesty. 

So far in Rivera's early Redskins tenure, two players have presented difficult situations, and both players have been traded. Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar wanted out of Washington, and Rivera got that done. 

Now here comes the Latimer situation. 


He was arrested last week in Denver and charged with assault and illegal discharge of a firearm among five other charges. Sounds bad. 

While the legal situation will play out regardless of football, the football situation will be Rivera's call.

From a football perspective, Latimer might not be the caliber of player worth dealing with all this drama. He has just 70 catches in six years as an NFL wide receiver, and he brings have more value as a special teamer than as a pass catcher.

Washington signed Latimer to a one-year, low-cost deal in late March and because of the coronavirus, he's yet to even practice with his new teammates. At best, Latimer could have emerged as the team's third or fourth wide receiver this fall, but more likely he would have been the fifth wideout.

Latimer's roster spot was hardly a lock before his arrest. 

After the arrest, it's much shakier. 

Remember, Rivera has talked at length about rebuilding the Redskins culture as the only roadmap toward long-term sustainable success and how that worked with the Panthers.

"I was in a place for nine seasons and the one thing we tried to do is really develop the right kind of culture. I think that's what it speaks to is that we did have the right kind of place," Rivera said in February. "But one thing we did try to do and one thing I do want us to do while we're in Washington is we want to make sure, as a team, we give back to the community."

Rebuilding a winning culture generally doesn't involve players getting arrested at 3 a.m. on gun charges. That's not always the case, and perhaps there are extenuating circumstances. 

In this situation, however, it might be easier for Rivera to simply release Latimer.

The team will take virtually no salary cap penalty, less than one percent, and it's hard to imagine a significant drop in offensive production either if Latimer isn't on the team. 

In the court of law everyone is innocent until proven guilty. 

On a football team, that doesn't have to be the case. Latimer had a loose grip on a roster spot in Washington for the 2020 season. That grip is much, much looser now, and shortly it could be out of reach. 

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Cody Latimer's arrest tests Ron Rivera's culture rebuild of the Redskins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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