Ron Rivera facing important decision in Redskins culture rebuild

Ron Rivera has brought a message of culture change with him since taking over the Washington Redskins. Now, he’ll be faced with an important decision about Cody Latimer.

Since being named the next head coach of the Washington Redskins, Ron Rivera has had a few simple messages for his team. He wants to build his program the right way, create competition at positions of uncertainty, and instill a good locker room culture in his first year with the team.

The lattermost point is very important to Rivera, who always had a good grip on the locker room during his time with the Carolina Panthers. Players respected him and played hard for him in part because there was a mutual trust between the two sides. He’s looking to have the same connection with his Redskins team, and that’s part of the reason that he brought in long-time Panther Thomas Davis to help him add leadership and build culture.

Rivera has already faced a couple question about culture that stemmed from Quinton Dunbar and Trent Williams amid their requests for new deals/holdouts. And his decision was to trade them away to ensure he had players that wanted to be in Washington playing for his team.

But now, Rivera will face a different question. What will he do with Cody Latimer after Latimer’s recent arrest?

Latimer, a wide receiver signed as a free agent this offseason, was arrested on Saturday in Colorado on charges that include second-degree assault, menacing, illegal discharge of a firearm, prohibited use of a weapon, and reckless endangerment.

That certainly doesn’t sound good. Latimer’s side of the story has yet to be detailed, but that will likely occur at some point in the coming days. And depending on what happens with that, Rivera and Kyle Smith will have a decision to make about the veteran receiver.

Cutting Latimer wouldn’t be a huge loss for the Redskins. He figured to provide a veteran presence in the receiver room and is a solid special teams player. But he wasn’t going to be anything more than a fourth or fifth receiver for the team. The team would absorb a minuscule dead cap hit of $137K if they don’t want to deal with him in the wake of his arrest. So, they do have an easy out.

But this is less about the player than it is about the message that Rivera and Kyle Smith want to send the team. Given the focus on team culture, especially from Rivera, this arrest could provide the impetus for the team to make an example of Latimer. To show that if you’re going to mess around off the field or put yourself in a bad situation, you won’t be a member of the Redskins.

Again, we’re still waiting on Latimer’s side of the story, so we won’t jump to any conclusions. But the opportunity is there for Rivera and the Redskins to make a statement once they have all the facts of the case available.

We’ll see what happens soon enough with Latimer. But his arrest and the fall out from it is certainly something that will be worth watching in the coming days.