Ron Rivera: Commanders 'being very proactive' in pursuit of franchise QB

A year ago, the Washington Commanders were in position to trade up for a quarterback on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Their offer for Matthew Stafford had been declined by the Lions and they'd signed Ryan Fitzpatrick during free agency as a bridge starter. As Justin Fields and Mac Jones fell out of the top 10, Washington deliberated moving up from the No. 19 pick before ultimately deciding to hang onto draft capital and address other needs on its roster.

If Ron Rivera's comments Tuesday are any indication, the club is pursuing a new starting QB much more intently this offseason.

"This year we are being very proactive, looking, searching," he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We are trying to truly cover every base. … Every time you hear something, you're checking into it. And so we've got to do our work. We've got to do our due diligence."

With only Taylor Heinicke on the books for 2022, the Commanders find themselves in urgent need of an upgrade at the game's most important position. Their efforts have begun with exploring the trade market, though Rivera said it remains unclear how viable that option is.

"That's something we're trying to find out," he said. "This week has been really interesting already."

While a few notable QBs have been purported as candidates, including Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan, the list of known available signal-callers looks a lot different. It's a group that includes the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo and free agents Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Mitchell Trubisky, with Carson Wentz possibly joining the lot soon.

Should a better option materialize via trade, Rivera intimated the Commanders will be aggressive with their offers.

"Whatever you pay, that's what you think the value is," he said. "So, when you get in these negotiations with another team, it's whatever they're asking for, is it what you're willing to pay for? Then that's what it is. Does anybody really care what was traded for Matthew Stafford last year? No."

A week in Indianapolis, of course, is also affording Washington quality time with the top QB prospects from the 2022 draft. The club currently holds the No. 11 overall pick, which could come up before the first passer comes off the board. The veteran coach didn't tip his hand at what type of signal-caller the Commanders are targeting, or how probable it is that they draft one in the first round. Rivera, however, did stress that identifying a franchise QB in general is "challenging."

"There's several quality guys, several standout guys that we're going to spend even more time on," he said of the prospects. "(Monday) was our first opportunity, we got a chance to interview a number of them. We'll continue the interview process, we'll start looking to figure out which guys are we going to do privates with, which ones we're going to bring in, which ones we're going to attend (their pro days).

"It's a different type of group because you've got everything from pure passers to guys that have pure athleticism. And so you've got to really look at that. You got to look at how it's going to fit the type of players you have. Ideally, if you can find a guy that can do both, hey, you're very fortunate. But again, you know, we're picking at No. 11, and I promise you, these are all things that we're looking at."

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