As head coach Ron Rivera put it, the Commanders never really considered pursuing quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason.
Instead, the club is focused on Sam Howell, who will enter the offseason program as the team’s first quarterback — though Rivera has maintained that doesn’t quite make him the starter just yet.
On Tuesday, Rivera noted that Howell has some qualities that remind him of a quarterback who was drafted a couple of rounds after Howell last year.
“We think Sam will be a good football player. We really do,” Rivera said at the annual league meeting, via John Keim of ESPN. “I don’t think this is as much a wild shot as people think it is. Part of it is because you watch a young man like [San Francisco’s Brock] Purdy have the season he had last year and you’d like to think, ‘Wow, we have a guy with that same type of ability and skill set.'”
Part of the reasoning for sticking with Howell — and free agent signee Jacoby Brissett — is a roster construction issue. If the Commanders pursued Jackson, then they might have to let go of some of their key veteran players, Rivera explained.
But Rivera also noted that Washington hasn’t ruled out drafting a quarterback high.
“We have to look at every avenue and look at every opportunity,” Rivera said, via the Washington Post. “We want to be able to make the decision on the best player for us, the best player available. It’s kind of twofold, because the best player for us could be a different position, but the best player available may be [a quarterback]. So we’ll see.”
In his only start as a rookie, Howell completed 58 percent of his passes for 169 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 35 yards with a TD.