Washington's experiment with Carson Wentz didn't pan out in 2022, leaving the Commanders with a need at quarterback.
In what is expected to be an active offseason regarding the position, Washington figures to be an active player -- unless a current member of the Commanders proves to be worthy of the job.
Second-year signal-caller Sam Howell will receive the first chance to do so, according to coach Ron Rivera.
"Well, I think he most certainly can be," Rivera said Wednesday when asked if Howell could win Washington's starting job. "I know this: We will go into OTAs, minicamp and training camp with Sam Howell more than likely QB1, and we'll see what happens.
"I mean, it's his opportunity. This is a challenge to him. If he comes out and does the things that he's capable of, we believe he's capable of, he can most certainly be our guy. But we'll find out. Again, that's what competition's gonna do. It's gonna bring the best out in all our guys."
Howell's career appeared destined for such an opportunity, at least prior to his final season at North Carolina. Howell was regarded among the 2022 draft's top signal-callers entering the 2021 collegiate season, but a difficult year for the Tar Heels saw him fall from Day 1 or 2 consideration into the fifth round, where Washington selected him 144th overall and sat him behind Wentz and Taylor Heinicke for all but one game in 2022.
Howell could have completed his entire rookie season without registering more than a blip on the NFL radar, but his showing in a 26-6 win over Dallas in Week 18 -- in which Howell completed 11 of 19 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception -- earned him enough attention to prompt Wednesday's question regarding his standing in Washington entering 2023.
It seems as if Rivera is willing to give the unproven Howell the first chance to earn a starting job in 2023. This doesn't mean Washington won't be active in seeking another option at the position, especially considering the veteran talent expected to become available in March. But for now, at least, Howell is likely starting the new year as Washington's top quarterback.