Commanders HC Ron Rivera Talks QB, Payne, Young

The Commanders continue to reiterate that Sam Howell will be their QB1 heading into training camp. During an appearance on PFT Live, head coach Ron Rivera reinforced Howell’s standing as the top quarterback, but he acknowledged the team may bring in a veteran to push him.

[RELATED: Commanders Committed To Sam Howell As QB1]

“The biggest thing we decided is he will start out as QB1,” Rivera said (via Charean Williams of “He will most certainly get the first opportunity. We go into OTAs and minicamp, he’ll be QB1. He’ll fight for that position. We’ll give him every opportunity to earn it, and we’ll see what happens when we get into training camp and through it.”

Last year, the Commanders pursued QBs like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Derek Carr. This time around, they’re not looking to make a big splash at the position, as Rivera dismissed the notion that the organization would pursue a big name.

“No. No,” Rivera said. “I think the biggest thing is we have to find a guy to come in that’s going to compete, but in terms of finding a guy you’re going to have to spend a lot of capital on, no. We’re not looking for a guy we’ve got to spend a lot of capital on. We’re looking for a guy that’s going to come in and compete first and foremost.”

Rivera expressed a similar sentiment to ESPN’s John Keim, noting that the front office will not spend “big capital” at the position (Twitter link). The team will save a significant chunk of cap when they inevitably cut Carson Wentz, but we previously heard that the organization liked the idea of starting a QB on a rookie contract and spending those savings elsewhere. Howell, a 2022 fifth-round pick, only got one start as a rookie, completing 11 of his 19 pass attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown, and one interception en route to a Week 18 win over the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, Rivera told Keim that the Commanders have reached out to defensive tackle Daron Payne‘s reps but have yet to talk money. The impending free agent had his best season in 2022, finishing with a career-high 11.5 sacks. Another important defensive line decision will surround former second-overall pick Chase Young; the Commanders will have to soon make a decision on his fifth-year option. Rivera told Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post that the team has yet to make a decision on Young, noting that they still need to evaluate his health and development (Twitter link). However, Rivera wasn’t too worried about the perception if the Commanders decline the player’s option, noting that the Commanders followed a similar path with Payne.

“No. Because that’s what we did with Daron,” Rivera explained. “It cost us. But it cost us in a good way, because the young man played, he did things the right way. He didn’t sit out, he didn’t withhold, he could have done that sit-in during training camp, but he didn’t. And because he didn’t, now we’re in that position where we have to find a way to say thank you, OK, you’ve earned it.”

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