'We're not desperate': Ron Rivera outlines Washington's free agency approach

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Peter Hailey
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'Not desperate': Rivera outlines Washington's free agency plan originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Ron Rivera held a pre-free agency press conference with reporters on Wednesday, and while he was quiet in response to some questions — his update on Landon Collins was brief, his take on Cam Newton was even shorter and he didn't talk much about other QBs besides reiterating that Washington is "exploring all options" — he was quite direct on something: The 2020 NFC East title isn't going to distract him from his big-picture plan.

Yes, the coach was encouraged by the unexpected achievements his club notched in an adversity-filled season.

Yes, he clearly wants to improve off what Washington did in the division last year. 

But, no, he will not let one playoff appearance force him to adjust how he wants to construct the roster when free agency commences next week. 

"We're not desperate," Rivera said. "There's no immediate need to 'have to,' 'got to,' 'must.' What we're looking to do is build a sustainable winning culture. We want to put the football team together the right way."

Before Wednesday, the last time Rivera held a presser on Zoom was when the organization publicly introduced Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney, and in that session, he explained that finding a long-term solution at quarterback wasn't "imperative."

He'd welcome that guy as soon as possible, obviously, but he expressed that he wouldn't just toss a contract at someone so he could fill up the depth chart and satisfy outside opinions.

Not surprisingly, that attitude applies to the entire operation.

"Just because of that," Rivera said, referring to the 2020 crown, "I really don't think you throw the plan away and you start reaching and doing things that you don't need to do right now."

Now, here's the thing: Don't mistake that approach as being overly-conservative. As Rivera demonstrated last March when pursuing Amari Cooper, if a player has the production and qualities he values, he will go after them, and hard. 

Even after franchise tagging Brandon Scherff, Washington will enter the market with one of the NFL's better cap situations, and it sounds like Rivera will gladly eat into that if the opportunity arises.

"We have a couple of guys that we'd love to be able to get, immediately, and we'll see how it goes," he admitted.

Then, once that initial wave passes, Rivera is keen on replicating some of the diamond-finding he did over the last free agency period.

"We'd love to find guys that have the kind of impact that a Logan Thomas did, that a JD McKissic did, that a [Kevin Pierre-Louis] did."

Overall, Rivera came across as in control and measured, like he typically does. Sure, it would've been entertaining to hear him describe how he intends to chuck a bag of money at Kenny Golladay and also attempt to sign KJ Wright, but he was never going to do that (even if he wasn't wary of possible tampering charges, which is something he leaned on a few times on Wednesday).

Instead, the leader emphasized the importance of going about free agency "the right way." In spots, that could mean paying, and in others, that could mean passing. Regardless, he's going to be in charge, and he won't be dissuaded by a recent spurt of success. In his mind, there's much more to come.