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Ron Rivera: Sam Howell is our QB1, but we need a veteran backup to help him grow

Mike Florio and Chris Simms are joined by Ron Rivera to unpack why he’s focused on building a strong team culture, how the Commanders are approaching the offseason with Sam Howell as the starter and more.

Sam Howell played only one game, the final one, and threw only 19 passes. The Commanders, though, have seen enough to declare him QB1.

Commanders coach Ron Rivera reiterated that during an interview with PFT Live on Wednesday.

“The biggest thing we decided is he will start out as QB1,” Rivera said of Howell. “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.”

The starting quarterback carousel will spin this offseason, with Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Lamar Jackson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Geno Smith and Daniel Jones among the quarterbacks who could change teams either with a trade or through free agency.

Count the Commanders out of that market.

“No. No,” Rivera said when asked if they would be in the market for a veteran starter. “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.”

It’s the opposite approach the team took last offseason when they called every team looking for a starter. They made a play for Russell Wilson and had the parameters in place for a trade for Garoppolo before his offseason shoulder surgery derailed that plan.

They instead drafted Howell in the fifth round and now will go with a player who once was considered a first-round prospect.

The only offseason question for Washington is who Howell’s backup will be.

“We want to find the right situation -- a guy that can come in and be that supporting guy that can really help him grow and become the guy that gives you an opportunity to win football games,” Rivera said.