Ron Rivera

Commanders Owner Discusses Ron Rivera’s Job Security

When Josh Harris took over ownership of the Commanders, many pundits immediately questioned the job status of head coach Ron Rivera. It seemed unlikely that the new ownership group would remove their head coach weeks before the season, but some have questioned if the organization could look elsewhere after the 2023 campaign.

[RELATED: NFL Approves Josh Harris As Commanders Owner]

For what it’s worth, Harris gave Rivera a vote of confidence earlier this week while speaking with reporters. The Commanders owner commended the coach’s leadership and experience, but he also acknowledged that wins will dictate Rivera’s job security.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Coach Rivera,” Harris said (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post). “He’s a good man. He’s done a great job getting the team to where it is relative to where it was when he got that. We’ve said, ‘We’re getting up to speed. We want to hear how you think, we want to learn how you make decisions.’ And it’s going really well. Everyone who coaches an NFL team or an NBA team, and us as owners, … we all realize that ultimately we have to deliver wins on the field, so you don’t really need to say anything. It’s just out there. But so far, so good.”

Following an underwhelming end to his nine-year stint with the Panthers, Rivera caught on with Washington in 2020. He’s spent the past three seasons with the organization, although only one of those campaigns has resulted in a .500 record. In total, Rivera holds a 22-27-1 record during his time as Washington’s head coach.

Harris will surely be looking for the Commanders organization to return to the postseason, and anything short could put Rivera’s job in jeopardy. The same could likely be said of general manager Martin Mayhew, although he might have a longer leash since he was brought in prior to the 2021 season.

This isn’t the first time that Rivera has dealt with a change in ownership. David Tepper took over ownership of the Panthers prior to the 2018 campaign. Rivera ended up lasting more than one season in Carolina, but he was fired before the 2019 campaign concluded.

Rivera actually lasted the longest among the recent head coaches who experienced ownership changes (h/t to Nathaniel Hackett, of course, didn’t even last a full season as the Broncos head coach after Rob Walton took over ownership last August. The Pegulas and Doug Marrone broke up less than three months after the Bills changed hands, while the Haslam’s let Pat Shurmur finish the 2012 season with the Browns before moving on. Mike Mularkey got a full year with the Jaguars when Shahid Khan took over, but he was unsurprisingly fired following a two-win campaign.

Latest On Commanders Extension Talks, Front Office Moves

The Commanders have a number of players heading into contract years, including Montez Sweat and Chase Young. We previously heard that the team’s talks with Sweat were on hold following Josh Harris‘ purchase of the team, but Ron Rivera hinted that extension talks with impending free agents could soon resume.

[RELATED: Commanders’ Montez Sweat Extension Plans On Hold]

Speaking to reporters (including ESPN’s John Keim), the Commanders head coach revealed that the coaching staff and front office continues to prepare for negotiations as ownership settles.

“There’s a lot to do,” Rivera said. “To assume anything will happen immediately is unfair; they are still learning and understanding us. We’re still talking with them and trying to get things lined up and in order.”

While the two pass rushers are the most notable players with expiring contracts, the Commanders have other extension-worthy players. This grouping includes running back Antonio Gibson, cornerback Kendall Fuller, and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

Among the team’s impending free agents, Sweat seems like the most likely to re-sign. Keim previously noted that the Commanders would like to extend the edge rusher. Young’s future with the team is in question after the organization declined the former second-overall pick’s fifth-year option. The Commanders will presumably let Young play out the 2023 campaign before deciding how to proceed.

While the team may be taking their time with player extensions, the Commanders have been busy adding to their front office. With Harris officially taking over the organization, the owner has made his first splash, hiring Craig Fischer as CFO (per Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske of the Washington Post). Meanwhile, former Atlanta Hawks COO/MetLife Stadium visionary Thad Sheely has been brought on as a consultant, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Jhabvala adds (on Twitter) that Sheely has been brought in to advise “on real estate and stadium matters.”

Latest On Commanders, QB Sam Howell

Sam Howell has occupied the Commanders’ starting quarterback role throughout the offseason. With the team set to begin the preseason, their evaluation of him will reach the next stage. Head coach Ron Rivera remains confident the team’s young signal-caller is progressing well, but his Week 1 starter’s status is not assured yet.

The 2022 fifth-rounder was declared Washington’s starter of the present and future as early as January, with Carson Wentz unsurprisingly being released not long after. Howell was tapped as the team’s presumed QB1 after the hiring of offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and once again ahead of training camp. His performance since then has drawn praise from Rivera.

As detailed by Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, Howell has impressed with his ability to pick up Bieniemy’s scheme. As a result, he will be in pole position during the preseason, but Rivera has been consistent over the course of the offseason in mentioning Jacoby Brissett as well. The veteran was signed to a one-year deal to serve as an insurance policy in case Howell – who only started one game last year – struggles in his opportunity to hold down the full-time gig.

As Vacchiano notes, it is not clear at this point if the starter’s role could be Brissett’s to win, as opposed to strictly being Howell’s to lose. The former has 48 starts to his name, including the first 11 games of the season last year when he filled in for the Browns until Deshaun Watson‘s suspension had been served. Brissett, 30, represents a high-floor, low-ceiling option for a Commanders team facing what many feel could be a make-or-break season for Rivera.

The NFC East figures to be highly competitive after each of the teams other than Washington made the postseason. Howell’s play during exhibition contests will go a long way in determining his fate, but individual expectations for the North Carolina product will be tempered compared to his divisional counterparts considering the experience gulf which exists. In spite of that, Rivera is assured the Commanders will have have a passer in place by Week 1 who will allow the team to compete for a playoff spot.

“I mean, we got some really good quarterback play going on right now,” he said, via Vacchiano. “We’ve got a real good quarterback room.”

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

After the 2022 offseason produced 10 new head coaches, this one brought a step back in terms of turnover. Five teams changed HCs, though each conducted thorough searches — four of them lasting until at least January 31.

The Colts and Cardinals hired their HCs after Super Bowl LVII, plucking the Eagles’ offensive and defensive coordinators (Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon). The Cardinals were hit with a tampering penalty regarding their Gannon search. Conducting their second HC search in two years, the Broncos saw multiple candidates drop out of the running. But Denver’s new ownership group convinced Sean Payton to step out of the FOX studio and back onto the sidelines after just one season away. The Panthers made this year’s first hire (Frank Reich), while the Texans — running their third HC search in three years — finalized an agreement with DeMeco Ryans minutes after the Payton news broke.

Only one of last year’s top 10 longest-tenured HCs lost his job. A turbulent Colts year led to Reich being fired barely a year after he signed an extension. During a rather eventful stretch, Jim Irsay said he reluctantly extended Reich in 2021. The Colts passed on giving interim HC Jeff Saturday the full-time position, despite Irsay previously indicating he hoped the former center would transition to that role. Reich landed on his feet, and after losing Andrew Luck to a shocking retirement just before his second Colts season, the well-regarded play-caller now has another No. 1 pick (Bryce Young) to mentor.

After considering a Rams exit, Sean McVay recommitted to the team and is overseeing a reshaped roster. Andy Reid also sidestepped retirement rumors, staying on with the Chiefs after his second Super Bowl win. This will be Reid’s 25th season as an NFL head coach.

Here is how the 32 HC jobs look for the 2023 season:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2027
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019: signed extension in July 2022
  11. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  12. Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders): January 1, 2020
  13. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  14. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  15. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  16. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  17. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  18. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  19. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  20. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  21. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  22. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  23. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  24. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  25. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  26. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  27. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022
  28. Frank Reich (Carolina Panthers): January 26, 2023
  29. Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): January 31, 2023
  30. DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans): January 31, 2023
  31. Shane Steichen (Indianapolis Colts): February 14, 2023
  32. Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals): February 14, 2023

Josh Harris Not Expected To Make Major Changes Following Commanders Sale

Josh Harris will officially become the Commanders owner later this month. While Daniel Snyder‘s sale of the team will surely have a long-lasting impact on the organization, the new owner isn’t expected to make any immediate changes.

[RELATED: Date Set For Vote On Commanders Sale Ratification]

According to Ben Standig of The Athletic, Harris isn’t expected to “make major staff changes” when he officially takes over the organization. This includes the job status of team president Jason Wright, with a source telling Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske of the Washington Post that Wright will “absolutely have the opportunity to perform in his role.”

Wright was hired by the Commanders in 2020, becoming the first Black team president in NFL history. As Jhabvala and Maske write, the executive was hired to “improve the workplace culture of a franchise embroiled in controversy,” and Wright did help navigate the organization through multiple investigations and eventual “senior business personnel” overhauls.

The team president has also faced criticism, mostly when it comes to near-league-bottom ticket sales over the past two years. Wright also drew some ire when it came to the Commanders’ “missteps in honoring the late Sean Taylor, a bounced raffle check and the tepid public response to its new name.”

Harris isn’t expected to shake things up, at least right away. Per Standig, the owner intends to “take his time to evaluate current staff before considering changes.” This buys executives like Wright some extra time to build a rapport with their new boss, but as Standig points out, Harris surely has “a list of potential executives to join him in Washington.”

It sounds like Harris also won’t make any rash decisions when it comes to the coaching staff and front office, including head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew. Of course, considering the timing of the sale, it seemed extremely unlikely that Harris would shake up those two areas of the operation with training camp rapidly approaching.

A league meeting has been scheduled for July 20 to ratify the Commanders sale. As the Washington Post notes, Harris and his group aren’t allowed to “to speak with employees of the team about future changes” until that time.

Ron Rivera Confirms Sam Howell As Commanders’ Training Camp Starter

Since the end of the 2022 season, Sam Howell has been in the driver’s seat to begin the coming campaign as the Commanders’ starting quarterback. The team’s stance in that regard did not change through minicamp, and the same is true with respect to next month’s training camp.

Head coach Ron Rivera said both before and after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy that Howell would sit atop the depth chart heading into the new league year. Free agency did not, as expected, involve a serious pursuit of the top signal-callers available via signings or trades, but a veteran presence was indeed added. Jacoby Brissett was inked to a one-year deal in March, opening the door to a potential offseason competition.

When Rivera addressed the situation before this past week’s mandatory minicamp, he said Brissett had “shown us some things that have really gotten people’s attention,” adding that the team “talks about Jacoby almost as much as we talk about Sam” (h/t Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports). With minicamp having come and gone, Washington has had another chance (albeit under very limited circumstances given the nature of June practices) to evaluate Howell with the first-team offense. The latter preformed well enough to maintain his title of QB1 for the time being.

“He’s much shown us what we want to see,” Rivera said, via ESPN’s John Keim. “He’s young, we know he is young. There was a lot of room for growth, and we know that, but he’s got a good skillset. He’s mobile, he’s got good foot movement, he’s got quick twitch to him, good decision maker. He is still learning to make those decisions, but he’s also got the arm talent and that’s the thing that that excites us.”

Howell, a 2022 fifth-rounder, made just one start in his rookie season. The Commanders’ Carson Wentz experiment did not pay off, leading to his release this offseason. Rather than making another pricey move under center, the keys have tentatively been handed over to Howell, whose career at North Carolina made him one of several less-than-highly-touted member of last year’s quarterback class.

A strong showing in training camp would be enough for Howell to remain in pole position for the Week 1 starting position, though the Brissett deal includes a high proportion of guranteed money along with incentives. The latter has logged 17 starts across his one-year stints in Miami and Cleveland over the past two years, and could provide Bieniemy’s unit with a stable floor if Howell delivers an underwhelming performance in July and August. Such a development will be needed for a change to the depth chart at this point, though.

Commanders Contract Matters On Hold Amid Likely Ownership Change

The timeline for Dan Snyder‘s long-reported sale — to Josh Harris — has overshadowed everything else pertaining to the Commanders this offseason, and that likely will continue into the foreseeable future.

Snyder and Harris have reached an exclusive sale agreement, doing so in early May. Issues surrounding the league’s debt limit and the number of investors in Harris’ ownership group are expected to produce an extended timetable before the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner takes over. Although Roger Goodell expects Harris’ purchase to be ratified, the NFL’s finance committee is still reviewing the $6.05 billion agreement.

As that matter persists, Snyder may still have some big-picture decisions to make. Though, it sounds like the Commanders’ football-side decision-makers would prefer to avoid that. The team is pausing contractual matters for the time being.

We’ll have to work through some things before we can do any of that stuff,” Ron Rivera said (via’s Armando Salguero) regarding contract issues. “We’re in a good position right now. I don’t think we really need to make those type of moves. If something does come up, I’ll probably reach out to the current owner and see what we’re capable of doing still.”

Fewer contract issues exist compared to last summer for the team. The 2022 offseason featured negotiations with Terry McLaurin and Daron Payne. McLaurin signed his extension last June, while Payne ended up receiving the franchise tag this year. But the Commanders became the first (and only) team to lock down a tagged player this year, giving the standout defensive tackle a four-year, $90MM extension in March.

It’s been put out there that everything’s kind of in a holding pattern until we get everything done and put into place,” Rivera said. “I do know that there is a plan. We’ve had a plan. We went through what the plan was in February, March, April. We’ve adjusted it because we got Daron taken care of.

And so now, we have a plan to focus on the next few guys that we feel we’ve got to be able to go after. But once the ownership change happens, we’ll be able to sit down with the powers that be and explain to them what we see and hopefully they’ll agree with it, and we’ll be able to go forward.”

Beyond signing draft picks, the Commanders do not have a McLaurin- or Payne-level contract decision to address. The team stood down at quarterback, going with an oft-questioned plan of a Sam HowellJacoby Brissett competition, and did not pick up Chase Young‘s fifth-year option, pointing to a “prove it” season for the former Defensive Rookie of the Year. This ownership transfer delay could affect the team’s proceedings with Montez Sweat, who is going into his fifth-year option season. The Commanders would have the franchise tag available for Sweat in 2024, but Young’s status — as he prepares for a full season, after seeing his 2021 ACL tear nearly knock him out for all of 2022 — stands to play a role on that front as well. Harris will likely be in place as owner when a potential Young-or-Sweat decision emerges.

Although the NFL’s spring meetings went off without a vote on Harris’ Commanders purchase, a meeting can be called specifically for a vote. That remains expected before the season begins. For the time being, Rivera, GM Martin Mayhew and Co. are somewhat restricted in how they navigate financial matters.

Commanders Rumors: Gibson, Rivera, Quon

The Commanders running backs room has some exciting depth with a fully healthy Brian Robinson entering his sophomore season and sixth-round pick out of Kentucky Christopher Rodriguez coming in as the new rookie in the position room. While Robinson and Rodriguez elicit some excitement in the nation’s capital, head coach Ron Rivera is still excited about what fourth-year back Antonio Gibson brings to the room.

Gibson seems to often be forgotten despite a string of strong performances to open his career. As a rookie, Gibson shouldered the lead-back duties en route to 1,042 scrimmage yards (795 rushing, 247 receiving) and 11 rushing touchdowns. In his sophomore season, he showed improvement with 1,331 scrimmage yards (1,037 rushing, 294 receiving) and 10 total touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving). Last season, Gibson gracefully took a back seat, allowing Robinson to come into the lead-back role after recovering from his gunshot wound.

Gibson started the first five contests of the season until Robinson was ready to take the reins. Even after allowing Robinson to start taking more and more carries, Gibson stayed ready, rushing for double-digit carries when asked and continuing to perform as the team’s best receiving back. He was, in fact, one of the league’s best receiving backs, finishing below only 49ers star Christian McCaffrey in receiving rating for running backs, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Not only that, but Gibson even took on additional duties, returning kicks for the team from Week 6 on.

Gibson should continue in a third-down/passing-down role and should continue to contribute strongly off the bench. The coaches are still excited about what he can do, and Gibson should be motivated to continue making the most of his opportunities with free agency looming on the horizon of the season.

Here are a few more rumors coming out of Washington, D.C.:

  • Lost in all the recent conversations of a potential ownership change in Washington is its impact on other team leaders. Rivera has experienced a change of regimes before in Carolina, when the franchise changed hands from Jerry Richardson to David Tepper. Rivera told Matthew Paras of The Washington Times that, while Richardson was a bit more hands-off, Tepper required “constant feedback and attention to things.” Tepper’s need for involvement was not something for which Rivera had been prepared, but now, having had that experience, Rivera feels he knows what it will take to “mesh” with the team’s future ownership. “I’ve got to be very specific and very clear cut with what our vision is going forward,” Rivera told Paras. “And it has to mesh…When that opportunity comes, when I sit down (with new ownership) and go through the explanation, I’m going to be very concise.”
  • The Commanders made an addition to their training staff this month, rehiring assistant athletic trainer Doug Quon to his previous role, according to Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske of The Washington Post. Quon was placed on administrative leave a bit over 18 months ago during an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion. Quon was placed on leave shortly after Vermillion, but Quon was never charged and was never officially tied to the activities that got Vermillion suspended from working with any NFL team indefinitely. After being approved by both the NFL and the NFL Players Association, Quon officially rejoined the Commanders at rookie minicamps earlier this month.

Prospective Commanders Owners Approached Sean Payton

Sean Payton is in place as the new head coach of the Broncos, after he was routinely named as the top candidate in this year’s coaching cycle. His move away from broadcasting was highly anticipated, but also involved an interesting element which he revealed recently.

When speaking to Adam Schein of SiriusXM, Payton revealed that he drew head coach consideration from certain prospective Commanders owners. A sale in Washington is not guaranteed to take place, but the process is currently being considered with owner Dan Snyder facing increased pressure to separate himself from the league.

“Everyone’s waiting to see what happens in Washington,” Payton said (video link via The Athletic’s Ben Standig). “And there was some interest from some potential ownership groups that are gonna be bidding on, currently had bid on that team, that were getting ahead of the game saying, ‘Hey, if we get awarded this team, would you?’ And so there were a lot of different things at play.”

Prior to his Super-Bowl winning stint in New Orleans, Payton spent time with each of the other three franchises in the NFC East, so he has a high degree of familiarity with Washington. The list of potential new Commanders owners has not been fully established, but is expected to include Jeff Bezos and several runners-up to buy the Broncos last offseason.

The Rob Walton-led group purchased Payton’s new employer, which will pay him at least $18MM per season to lead them from the sidelines. That price was driven by a number of factors, including his acclaim as a coach, the considerable interest shown from other HC-needy teams and Payton’s stated willingness to remain as a FOX broadcaster for the 2023 season.

Of note regarding Payton’s remarks, of course, is the fact that Washington is not one of the teams which recently hired a new head coach or is currently looking for one. Ron Rivera remains in place as the team’s bench boss, having coached in the nation’s capital since 2020. He could be a hot seat candidate heading into 2023, given his 22-27-1 record over three years, but he is currently moving ahead with the support of the front office. This offseason includes a number of key questions for the Commanders, including decisions at the quarterback position and with respect to a number of key free agents.

The Payton pursuit is a moot point regardless of who – if anyone – purchases the Commanders in the near future, given his Broncos hire. His comments are nevertheless a further example of the interest he generated and the desire certain potential new owners would have to make significant changes to the coaching staff upon arrival.

Commanders HC Ron Rivera Talks QB, Payne, Young

The Commanders continue to reiterate that Sam Howell will be their QB1 heading into training camp. During an appearance on PFT Live, head coach Ron Rivera reinforced Howell’s standing as the top quarterback, but he acknowledged the team may bring in a veteran to push him.

[RELATED: Commanders Committed To Sam Howell As QB1]

“The biggest thing we decided is he will start out as QB1,” Rivera said (via Charean Williams of “He will most certainly get the first opportunity. We go into OTAs and minicamp, he’ll be QB1. He’ll fight for that position. We’ll give him every opportunity to earn it, and we’ll see what happens when we get into training camp and through it.”

Last year, the Commanders pursued QBs like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Derek Carr. This time around, they’re not looking to make a big splash at the position, as Rivera dismissed the notion that the organization would pursue a big name.

“No. No,” Rivera said. “I think the biggest thing is we have to find a guy to come in that’s going to compete, but in terms of finding a guy you’re going to have to spend a lot of capital on, no. We’re not looking for a guy we’ve got to spend a lot of capital on. We’re looking for a guy that’s going to come in and compete first and foremost.”

Rivera expressed a similar sentiment to ESPN’s John Keim, noting that the front office will not spend “big capital” at the position (Twitter link). The team will save a significant chunk of cap when they inevitably cut Carson Wentz, but we previously heard that the organization liked the idea of starting a QB on a rookie contract and spending those savings elsewhere. Howell, a 2022 fifth-round pick, only got one start as a rookie, completing 11 of his 19 pass attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown, and one interception en route to a Week 18 win over the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, Rivera told Keim that the Commanders have reached out to defensive tackle Daron Payne‘s reps but have yet to talk money. The impending free agent had his best season in 2022, finishing with a career-high 11.5 sacks. Another important defensive line decision will surround former second-overall pick Chase Young; the Commanders will have to soon make a decision on his fifth-year option. Rivera told Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post that the team has yet to make a decision on Young, noting that they still need to evaluate his health and development (Twitter link). However, Rivera wasn’t too worried about the perception if the Commanders decline the player’s option, noting that the Commanders followed a similar path with Payne.

“No. Because that’s what we did with Daron,” Rivera explained. “It cost us. But it cost us in a good way, because the young man played, he did things the right way. He didn’t sit out, he didn’t withhold, he could have done that sit-in during training camp, but he didn’t. And because he didn’t, now we’re in that position where we have to find a way to say thank you, OK, you’ve earned it.”