Former Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Trent Williams says he wants to play for his former coach, Ron Rivera, in the NFL again. But first, he'll have to make it onto Washington's draft board. And then, of course, maybe he'll find a way back to Carolina, which Williams will only do if Rivera takes the head-coaching job that Washington just elevated from interim to full-time status.
"I've talked to him a few times," Williams told Pro Football Talk. "We had a great relationship when he was a player and I was a coach, so we talk once a week. That's probably been about five years."
Rivera, 54, reportedly interviewed with Washington on Tuesday and is expected to meet with team owner Dan Snyder and vice president of football operations and general manager Scot McCloughan soon. Rivera reportedly told a group of Washington players last week that he's interested in taking the job, and according to the Charleston Post and Courier, he and Snyder have a "great rapport" and Rivera has discussed the chance to coach on the Redskins' campus with several local high school and college coaches.
Williams, who won three straight NFL Pro Bowls with the Panthers from 2009 to 2012, acknowledged that he hasn't taken to coaching. But after a brief professional career as a defensive tackle in the CFL, he said he could adapt as a head coach.
"I think I could coach some," Williams said. "I started coaching a little bit after my playing career ended. I was on the coaching staff at Oklahoma State, and I took a job as a defensive quality control guy, which is not much fun because I had the grind all week and then I had to go home and see my kids and then everything I do after that is teaching. It's not fun at all.
"So, I think I could help out in an offensive role. I can take some input and get some ideas to get the team ready."
As for whether or not he'd be open to playing for Rivera again, Williams said it would only be happening if he were able to do so with the team that drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2008. The Redskins still need to find a replacement for Williams, who is expected to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and Rivera said in mid-January that if Williams were to land a job as a coach, the veteran tackle would "definitely be asked."
"I will probably say, 'I'm not going to go the coaching route if you're not going to take me back there,'" Williams said. "I will look at it once he offers it to me. But if he's not going to take me back there, I'm going to try and figure out other opportunities."
Since taking over a Panthers team that was nearly an average defensive team in 2017, Rivera has had the Panthers ranked 22nd in the NFL in total defense, 14th in sacks and 30th in interceptions. Last season, he took the Panthers to the Super Bowl but lost to the New England Patriots in stunning fashion. He leaves Carolina with a 67-45 career record after 11 seasons with the Panthers.