Before he was about to call his new-new quarterback in Sam Howell, Ron Rivera wanted to touch base on Saturday with his pending old-new quarterback Carson Wentz.
Ever since acquiring Wentz from Indianapolis about a month and a half ago, Rivera has asserted that the ex-Colt will be the Commanders' starter in 2022 — and hopefully beyond. On the surface, grabbing a passer in the fifth round of the NFL Draft shouldn't be interpreted as a threat to Wentz's starting status.
But with this being Washington (where any new thrower of the football is looked at as maybe the next thrower of the football) and with this being Wentz (who's on his third squad in three years and who owns a contract that makes 2023 with the Commanders anything but guaranteed), Rivera felt the need to inform Wentz that his position group was about to grow by one.
"I had an opportunity to talk with Carson before we made the pick," the coach explained to reporters after the draft concluded. "I wanted to make sure he understood that this is just all about developing a young guy more so than anything else.
"He's our number one going forward, and he just appreciated the fact that I gave him the heads up, which I thought was really cool. He was actually pretty excited because he just thinks that there are a lot of good things about Sam."
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At the beginning of the offseason, Rivera, General Manager Martin Mayhew and the rest of the franchise's brass launched a far-and-wide search for a go-to signal-caller.
Eventually, those decision-makers settled on Wentz, and as Rivera put it Saturday, "got off the quarterback train" following that choice.
Just ahead of the draft, however, Rivera admitted that one member of this year's crop of rookie QBs attracted his attention as he was evaluating the bunch.
When pressed in his weekend presser on if Howell was that prospect, Rivera winked.
"We like Sam," he said.
Throughout the meeting with the media, Rivera was very obviously balancing his praise of Howell with his continued support of Wentz.
In Philadelphia, Wentz's Eagles career went sideways when the organization took Jalen Hurts in the second round of 2020's event. That notion appeared to be on Rivera's mind, which is why he reiterated that the Commanders are Wentz's team.
In fact, Rivera wouldn't even broach the idea of Howell one day ascending to the top of the depth chart.
"We're very fortunate to have Carson as our starting quarterback and knowing that this is a guy that can take us into the future, and here's a young guy that could eventually grow into it and become the kind of guy that can back us up for a while," he said.
Outsiders, though, had no such qualms about drumming up a potential clash between Wentz and Howell.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that Howell could "be ready to play" should Wentz stumble early in Washington. Those in Philly, meanwhile, were quick to draw a connection between this situation and the one that pitted Wentz against Hurts.
And even as he did his absolute best to fend off any inkling of brewing battle — which, again, on paper seems ridiculous, since one quarterback is set to earn $28 million this season and the other has been a pro for about seven seconds — Rivera did at times declare his enthusiasm about Howell without any restrictions.
"To have Sam fall to us was something we had to jump on," he said. "We feel this is a home run for us."