Ryan Kerrigan becomes the latest Washington staple to leave the franchise

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Ryan Kerrigan is latest Washington staple to leave the team originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Once you're able to get past the shock of Ryan Kerrigan joining the Eagles, you'll come to realize something else: He's just the latest Washington staple who no longer calls Washington home.

Kerrigan had been with the organization for a decade, and in those 10 years, he climbed from the bottom of the team's sack list all the way to the top. Yet now, the 2011 first-round choice will trade in his Burgundy and Gold uniform and instead don the jersey of one of the Burgundy and Gold's biggest rivals.

Other familiar faces have departed the squad since coach Ron Rivera took over, too.

Long snapper Nick Sundberg, the only guy who had been with Washington longer than Kerrigan, was told in March that he wasn't a part of the club's plans moving forward. While outsiders might question how impactful the loss of a long snapper could be, those who knew Sundberg — who was flawless on the field and a consistent community contributor off of it — certainly don't.

Rewind an extra offseason and remember that Trent Williams, who was picked one draft ahead of Kerrigan and who developed into a true fixture at left tackle, was traded to San Francisco. Williams' mind was made up about wanting to leave Washington before Rivera was tabbed as the team's next leader, yet Rivera ultimately executed the trade. In doing so, he sent away someone who was viewed as a potential franchise lifer.

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Josh Norman fits the criteria as well. The corner left Rivera and Carolina for the NFC East after a sterling 2015 campaign and ended up logging four years with Washington. But when Norman's old coach had the opportunity to become his new one, Rivera declined. Norman was released in February of 2020, and he now is employed by the Bills.

Alex Smith is another well-known piece that didn't fit into Rivera's puzzle. Though Smith's tenure in the area didn't come close to matching the length of Kerrigan's, Sundberg's, Williams' or even Norman's, he was definitely viewed as a primary building block by the previous regime. Rivera and his staff, however, didn't feel the same about the quarterback, who eventually chose to retire in April.

The theme applies to additional Smith-like players, ones who didn't rack up service time like Kerrigan but who still were once recognized as important parts of the roster.  

Quinton Dunbar was traded in March 2020. Adrian Peterson was let go in the middle of training camp a summer ago. Dwayne Haskins was dropped last December. 

Of all the names that have been mentioned in this story, Kerrigan is the most revered. His best might not have been as elite as Williams, but the offensive lineman's career with Washington ended in a messy fashion. Kerrigan's, on the other hand, concluded more quietly, which is appropriate considering the kind of person he is. 

So, in one way, it feels almost wrong to compare Kerrigan to the rest of the pros above. Look at it from another angle, though, and you see how he fits in perfectly.

Rivera's only mission is to make Washington better, and to do that, he has to increase the depth chart's overall talent and potential. Past accomplishments or numbers don't matter to him; it's all about what someone can bring for 2021 and beyond. 

That sort of philosophy will lead to some painful goodbyes, with Kerrigan's representing the most recent and hardest.

It also, hopefully, will produce more victories.