The Washington Football Team era is almost over.
The organization will unveil its new name and logo on Feb. 2 as it launches its rebrand. The start of a new era in Washington also may include a new quarterback.
That is the No. 1 priority for Head Coach Ron Rivera and his front office this offseason. In their season-ending news conference in Ashburn on Tuesday, Rivera made that pretty clear, along with General Manager Martin Mayhew.
Which direction will the organization go to find a signal-caller?
“At this point, nothing is out of the question,” Rivera said.
“We’ve started the process,” Mayhew added. “We’ve been talking about this for several months now and how we move forward. Every avenue, uncover every stone.”
Rivera mentioned several times that there are four different avenues for a quarterback: “We have on the roster, in free agency, in the draft and potential trades.”
It seems to be clear over the last few weeks of the season that Taylor Heinicke is not the option moving forward. He is under contract and could serve as a backup. The team brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick this past offseason, and he lasted one quarter into the opener before getting hurt and being done for the season.
Washington could add a veteran next year as well. There are options out there, and a lot of people like to mention Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is on the trade market.
Rivera said he wasn’t allowed to talk about players on other rosters, but acknowledged that anything is possible. The issue with Watson is he’s been accused by 22 women of sexual harassment and it’s unclear when the situation will be resolved.
For Rivera, one’s character will always come into question with any quarterback Washington goes after.
“We most certainly will do our due diligence,” Rivera said. “That’s the thing we have to do more than anything else, is really take a look at all those situations, circumstances and really go through the process. Obviously, we’d have to find out what the league has going on and saying with things like that.”
If Washington goes with a rookie quarterback in the draft, depending on where it selects him, there will be pressure to play him right away. Rivera has mentioned in the past that year three is the season Washington needs to take a big step forward.
If he starts a rookie quarterback in year three, is that enough of a final piece of the puzzle to put them over the top?
“I feel we have a pretty good nucleus here,” he said.
“If we did that with a rookie, I wouldn’t be afraid to play him because you’re bringing them here for one reason, that’s to play … if you draft him, are you guys going to be patient enough to give me two seasons? Are you guys going to be patient enough if I don’t play him? So, if we do that, we’re doing that to play him. I’m not doing it to have him wait because again, like I said, to me, the third season is when you take another step.”
It doesn’t matter which direction Washington chooses to go. Ultimately, Rivera and Mayhew said they need to get it right, and the No. 1 priority is a quarterback. For many NFL observers, Rivera has done a good job of putting other pieces into place, but now is the time to get the signal-caller to better everyone on the team.
Meanwhile, in other news to come out of Tuesday’s news conference, Mayhew discussed Brandon Scherff’s contract situation. The All-Pro guard played the last two seasons under the franchise tag, while the sides continued to work on a long-term deal.
“Brandon is an outstanding player,” Mayhew said. “Seven years here, five Pro-Bowls. You can’t replace that kind of production. Very respected in the locker room, and it’s been great getting to know him. It’s my first year here being around him and seeing his work ethic.”
As far as the progress on a deal, Mayhew said an offer has been delivered to Scherff.
“But I think our fans should know,” he said. “We’ve made every effort to get something done. We’ve continued to work on that. Last year, we made an offer to be the highest-paid offensive guard in the history of the National Football League — and we’ll keep that dialogue going on and see where things go.”
Washington drafted Scherff with the fifth overall selection in the 2015 draft. He will also represent Washington at the Pro Bowl next month.