The Washington Commanders went into the offseason with a much different plan at quarterback than one year ago. Last offseason, Washington allegedly called all 31 other teams inquiring about the availability of the quarterbacks on each roster.
The Commanders struck out on Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. They wanted Jimmy Garoppolo, but a shoulder injury kept that potential trade from happening. Instead, they turned to the Indianapolis Colts and Carson Wentz.
Washington sent two third-round picks to the Colts for Wentz and swapped places in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft. In return, the Commanders received 1,755 yards passing, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 2-5 record as starting quarterback.
The acquisition was as bad as most had predicted.
Veteran backup Taylor Heinicke saved the season for Washington. Heinicke led the Commanders, which were backed by a strong defense and solid running game, into playoff contention. Unfortunately, Heinicke struggled down the stretch, and Washington fell just short.
One bright spot in Washington’s 2022 season was rookie quarterback Sam Howell’s performance in the season-ending blowout win over the Dallas Cowboys. Howell wasn’t perfect, but he played well, flashing the potential many saw in Howell during his sophomore season at North Carolina.
So the offseason plan was to give Howell a chance at quarterback in 2023 and have him compete with a dependable veteran. There would be no pursuit of Rodgers or Garoppolo. Instead, Washington was looking at bringing Heinicke back or signing Andy Dalton or Jacoby Brissett.
When Heinicke signed with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington replaced him with Brissett, a move that has drawn praise around the NFL.
Bleacher Report recently named the top seven acquisitions of the 2023 offseason thus far, and Brissett to the Commanders came in at No. 5.
The Washington Commanders might not be serious playoff contenders in 2022—though coming off an 8-8-1 season, they shouldn’t be counted out. However, Washington is looking to establish its quarterback of the future.
That might be 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell, who won his only start as a rookie.
But Washington needed competition at quarterback and a veteran who can mentor its young signal-caller. It found the perfect solution in 30-year-old Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett started 11 games for the Cleveland Browns this past season and never once publicly complained about his status as a temporary starter. He has the right mindset needed to mentor Howell, serve as an extra coach on the sideline and help Washington win games if he’s called upon.
As Cleveland’s starter, Brissett was actually quite effective. He threw for 2,608 yards with 12 touchdowns, six interceptions and an 88.9 passer rating. He also rushed for 243 yards, two touchdowns and 28 first downs.
What makes this deal even better is the fact that Brissett signed on a modest one-year, $8 million deal. The Commanders now have a tremendous game plan at the game’s most important position, and they didn’t overpay to get it. This acquisition might not make a lot of headlines, but it was undoubtedly one of the savviest moves of the early offseason.
It’s not often the Commanders receive praise, but this is warranted. Washington can’t go wrong with Brissett. If Howell falters, the Commanders have a starter capable of coming in and keeping them in the playoff hunt. But if Brissett doesn’t play, that means things are going well with Howell.