NFL teams
John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer 48d

Washington's Ron Rivera calls Derrius Guice's release 'tough but necessary decision'

NFL, Washington

Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera called the release of running back Derrius Guice a tough but necessary decision.

Washington released Guice on Friday, the same day he was arrested on three counts of domestic violence, stemming from incidents in February, March and April, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Department.

"Any time you have to release a very talented player it's always a tough decision," said Rivera, in his first public comments about the situation. "We take those allegations very, very seriously and we had to make a decision. I talked to [Washington's] players yesterday that I made a decision I believe was in the best interest of our organization and if it was the right decision we'll benefit from it and if not it will be on me. I will take full responsibility going forward to make sure we do things the right way."

Washington selected Guice in the second round of the 2018 draft. He was a controversial figure entering the draft with questions surrounding his character. Carolina, where Rivera was coaching, took Guice off its draft board with concerns about his knees and his character, according to multiple sources. Other teams did the same.

But Rivera declined to say whether other factors such as his health led to Guice's release. In a statement released Friday, the team said it did not learn of the charges until Friday.

"We had a conversation with him Friday morning, and from what we learned later on we made our decision," Rivera said.

Guice had played only five games in two seasons with Washington because of three knee injuries. He never touched the ball more than 10 times in a game. The organization considered him unreliable, which is why they signed veteran Peyton Barber in the offseason and drafted Antonio Gibson in the third round. They also have Adrian Peterson, third-down back J.D. McKissic, and Bryce Love, the former Stanford star who hasn't played since a torn ACL near the end of his 2018 college season.

"Derrius is a gifted young football player and again, it's one of those things where we're trying to get ready for the season and one thing we can't have is situations and circumstances that are beyond our realm," said Rivera. "He's going to have to deal with something for a while, and his opportunity to get prepared and ready for the season would be limited."

Meanwhile, two days after releasing Guice, Washington activated linebacker Reuben Foster off the physically unable to perform list. Foster was twice charged with domestic violence, but charges were dropped both times. Washington claimed him in November 2018, two days after San Francisco released him.

When that was compared to Guice's release, Rivera stressed that each situation is unique and will be dealt with accordingly. He said he's liked what he's seen from Foster.

"Reuben and I have talked about these things," Rivera said. "The one thing Reuben has really shown since I've been here is he's doing things the right way. He's doing things the way we need him to do. He's done a great job in terms of his rehab and a great job working with our coaches. Here's a guy that needed a change of scenery. That may be one of the things that truly benefited him. Who knows, that's what might be needed in Derrius' case, an opportunity to get a change of scenery."

Washington also still has receiver Cody Latimer on the roster following his arrest in May on five charges, including the illegal discharging of a firearm, stemming from an incident at a poker game. His attorney said one of the people Latimer allegedly shot at was under investigation for sexually assaulting Latimer's son. The NFL placed Latimer on the commissioner's exempt list as the league investigates the situation.

Rivera said that because he's on the exempt list, they'll wait to hear what the league says before determining what to do with Latimer.

"We'll look at each situation, each circumstance individually and we'll go through our process and make our assessments," he said.

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