For all the focus on whether Washington will trade Dwayne Haskins ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, there’s another player on the roster generating all sorts of buzz: defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.
As several contenders search for pass-rushing help, Kerrigan has been a popular name popping up in NFL circles. NBC Sports insider Peter King believes the 32-year-old would be a perfect fit for the New England Patriots. Other teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks have all been rumored to be seeking upgrades — and the Ravens and the Seahawks have traded for pass rushers in recent days.
Kerrigan is seen as a hot commodity for a few reasons: He’s in the last year of his contract, he’s productive and he has a positive presence that won’t disrupt a locker room.
Sports Illustrated reported last week that Washington would listen to any offer. But that’s quite different from accepting one.
Kerrigan, a four-time Pro Bowler who has spent his entire career in Washington, becoming a face of the franchise along the way, has played in only 36.4% of the team’s defensive snaps this season.
Still, in a recent interview with SiriusXM, coach Ron Rivera sounded like a guy who sees the veteran as an important piece for what he’s trying to build in Ashburn.
“I know it’s tough because I know he wants to start,” Rivera said Tuesday. “But you look at the young guys we have thee, there’s a role for (him). This is the role that you’re going to get your spot chance and when you get those spot chances, you got to make hay. And he does. That’s the thing that’s been perfect about this: When he’s been popped out there and we’ve needed to come up, he has.
“That’s the importance of having a vet that sits there and accepts the responsibility and the role. By doing so, you got Chase (Young) and Montez (Sweat) that sit there and admire the guy. … Every day, he goes out there, he practices the way you’re supposed to and then when he gets the chance to play, he’s made hay.”
Rivera’s glowing praise, of course, hasn’t stopped the coach from making the moves he feels are best suited for his team. Rivera has admiration for running back Adrian Peterson and his work ethic, but still cut the former MVP before the start of the regular season. Rivera also complimented Haskins for weeks before demoting him to third string.
Trading Kerrigan, though, would seem to run contrary from the message that Rivera has preached over the past few weeks. At 2-5, Washington is making a push for the horrific NFC East while developing players for the long term. Kerrigan, the franchise’s all-time sack leader, can help Washington achieve both of those goals. He produces on the field and has served as a mentor off it.
Despite playing just 22 snaps per game — a number inflated by Young missing Week 4 with a groin injury — Kerrigan has four sacks in seven games this season. In 2019, Kerrigan didn’t record his fourth sack until Week 10 — when he already played more than 400 snaps.
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said at this stage of Kerrigan’s career, the defensive end benefits from having fresh legs in a rotation.
“It’s not about how many snaps you take,” Del Rio said. “It’s what you do with the snaps that you take. I always talk about what a pro he is because of the way he prepares and the way he conducts himself and the teammate he is and all those kinds of things because it’s an example of what you want.”
This year, Rivera’s role at the trade deadline will be different than previous seasons. Upon being hired, he was given final say over personnel decisions — a responsibility he didn’t have in Carolina.
That means the coach will ultimately get to sign off on any deal that’s presented to him.
Rivera, speaking to reporters last week, said he would discuss any proposed deals with his coaching staff and front office.
“I don’t want to deal in ‘what ifs,’” Rivera said. “We’ll get to that point when we get to that point.”
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