Simply put, the plan was always for inside linebacker
It was the team’s plan, after he started the last 40 games at inside linebacker and fit perfectly into Jim Haslett’s reworked 3-4 scheme.
That’s why they closed a deal on Riley Jr. just hours before the start of free agency, ensuring that the 25-year-old rising star would return to the burgundy and gold.
It happened to mesh perfectly with Riley’s plans, who said he wanted to return to Washington from the get-go.
“I didn’t shop around in free agency because I already knew where I wanted to be,” Riley Jr. told Redskins.com. “The Redskins made me a fair offer based on what I thought I was going to get and I couldn’t be happier to sign.”
Perry Riley Jr. confirmed that he looked into several other cities over the weekend before free agency, but ultimately took his flight back to Dulles.
“There were some teams that gave me similar offers—some more, some less—but I didn’t want to live in those cities,” Riley Jr. said, citing his young family and aversion to the cold.
“I wanted to come back from the get-go. This is where I wanted to be.”
Riley Jr. returns to a defense in transition, as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has had license to add playmakers in each unit so far in free agency. But for Perry, the appeal was in the familiarity.
“They kept Haz’ on, and that’s when I said, ‘alright, let’s go,’” he said, praising his defensive coordinator. “I already know what my role is and I wouldn’t have to learn a new system.”
He will also be charged with filling the leadership void after London Fletcher retired this offseason. According to his AMA Reddit session, Riley Jr. said that will be the most challenging part of his transition.
“On the field, I've been doing that my whole life. It's going to be natural for me on the field,” he wrote. “But being the one to give the pep talks when people need them, all the things London did while he was here, will be the toughest part of the transition.”
Riley Jr. credits Fletcher with developing him as a player and a professional, giving him guidance that he never had to give.
“I owe him the world. He took me under his wing and he did a lot for me that he never had to do,” he explained. “He taught me so much, but the most important thing for players is that your teammates trust you and want to go the extra mile for you.
“He didn't just tell me, he lived it: extra work, extra film, working harder than anyone else. You had no choice but to match his intensity and you didn't want to let him down.
“I always wanted to go do well for Fletch’, to show him that I was growing and learning. I wanted to make him proud.
“I appreciate every second of what he did for me.”