Ron Rivera emphasized the importance of competition and young contributors during his first season as head coach of the Washington Football Team.
Signing 16 players to Reserve/Futures contracts reflects both philosophies.
"I am excited to continue to work with all the young men who we signed to Reserve/Future deals," Rivera told Washingtonfootball.com. "These men all worked extremely hard this season and deserved the opportunity to come back and compete as we head into the 2021 offseason program."
The coaching staff is already familiar with 13 of these players because they were on the team's practice squad at one time or another. Here are those signings:
- DT David Bada*
- WR Jeff Badet
- DB Jordan Brown
- WR Tony Brown
- TE Dylan Cantrell
- WR Trevor Davis
- DE Jalen Jelks
- DT Devaroe Lawrence
- RB Javon Leake
- T Rick Leonard
- LB Justin Phillips
- TE Tyrone Swoopes
- K Kaare Vedvik
- RB Jonathan Williams
*DT David Bada will be entering his second year in the International Pathway Program.
Washington added to its futures class Tuesday with three outside signings: defensive backs DeMarkus Acy and Torry McTyer and defensive end Daniel Wise.
Futures contracts, reserved for players not currently on an active roster or impending unrestricted free agents, are used to essentially lock up young talent for the next league season. Rivera believes he has plenty of that in Washington, and the players are grateful for the chance to further prove themselves.
"It's a true blessing knowing that I have a spot to come to for OTAs and training camp to be able to come in to compete," said wide receiver Jeff Badet, perhaps the most notable futures signee. "To where I was last year to where I'm at right now, all I can say is that it's a true blessing."
A 2018 undrafted free agent, Badet was out of the NFL for more than a year before he signed with Washington's practice squad in mid-September. He showed enough for Washington to temporarily elevate him for two games and then promote him to the active roster, where he remained for nearly six weeks.
Badet worked closely with a lot of Washington's other futures signees, so he is not surprised the team chose to keep so many.
"It's a lot of stuff that people don't get to see," Badet said. "Obviously, our season took a turn, and I felt like a lot of guys, including practice squad guys, were trying to push a lot of players. So, I think the coaches were seeing that the practice squad guys were pushing the 53 to play harder each and every week, so I think that's pretty much what it was is the coaches seeing the potential a lot of us have."
One of those players was defensive back Jordan Brown, a 2019 seventh-round pick who signed with Washington's practice squad Nov. 2. Brown entered the NFL as a cornerback and bounced around from the Cincinnati Bengals to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders. Washington, however, saw his potential as a safety, and he has been practicing his new position for the past two months. Signing a futures deal, Brown said, further cements the coaches' belief in him becoming a contributor in the secondary.
Brown and Badet both brought up the values -- attitude, preparation and effort -- that Rivera drilled into his players' head in his first season in Washington. It's Rivera's character, consistency and ability to motivate that give them confidence he can turn this franchise into a consistent winner.
"Man, just how he came in and changed the culture and just putting his team in position to win," added running back Javon Leake, who spent the latter part of the season on Washington's practice squad. "I love Coach Rivera, he's a great coach. Everything that he's been through, to be able to still be out there and coach, tells you a lot about him and what type of guy he is. For me, just in my short time with Washington, I love everything about Coach Rivera, and I'm excited to be a part of that program with him."