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Ron Rivera on why Washington acquired more picks instead of UDFAs originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Just because the NFL Draft is over doesn't mean the search for collegiate talent stops across the league.
In fact, the moment the final pick is made, every team immediately turns its attention to the undrafted free agents on the market. Additions begin to come in just minutes after Mr. Irrelevant has his name announced. Like every other team, Washington has gotten involved in years past.
Yet in 2021, Ron Rivera and company took a different approach. The team made just one UDFA signing and instead acquired more talent on Day 3 by trading with the Philadelphia Eagles for two late-round picks. Essentially, the idea was to supplement potential free agent signings with those draft picks.
Why? Joining 106.7 The Fan's BMitch & Finlay on Monday, Rivera noted that this process was a lot simpler for Washington. For starters, it allowed the team to avoid bidding wars to land an undrafted player.
“We have found that that’s a very difficult thing cause it’s so competitive," Rivera said.
That competitiveness can drive teams to spend a large sum of money to land a player that was passed over for seven rounds in the draft. Including signing bonuses, it's a large risk to take when there is no certainty that the player ends up making an impact on the roster.
Understanding that during the evaluation process, Rivera and the front office saw it best to invest in more picks and players on their board, rather than the unknown.
"At the end of the day you don’t want to have pay more than you want to pay, guarantee more than you want to guarantee. At the end of the day if you cut a guy, that’s lost money," Rivera said. "Or you don’t want to put it in a situation where you guarantee a guy that’s going to be on your practice squad and he’s not good enough to be there. So you have to be careful.”
“We did the things that we felt were going to be really good for us," Rivera. "We’re not sure if signing four or five more undrafted free agents would have really helped us anymore than taking a group of guys right now that our scouts are looking at.”
Washington did agree to a deal with Buffalo University running back Jaret Patterson, who put together an impressive collegiate career. Beyond that, however, the organization felt it was best to turn its attention elsewhere.
Still, the lack of undrafted free agents in Washington doesn't mean the team isn't open to bringing in new talent. As Rivera stated, the pro scouts are still evaluating players, they just won't all be rookies.
“We’re going to bring some of those guys in, work them out and perhaps sign them as undrafted free agents," Rivera said.