What did Ron Rivera think of the Sam Howell trade?

At this time, one year ago, a desperate Ron Rivera staked his future on the right arm of young quarterback Sam Howell. Entering a critical fourth season as head coach of the Washington Commanders, Rivera had struck out on previous quarterbacks and decided to roll the dice with his 2022 fifth-round pick.

With limited funds due to a pending ownership change, Rivera was unable to improve the Commanders around Howell last offseason. Instead, he hoped new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy could spark Washington’s offense.

It didn’t work. The Commanders finished 4-13, and Bieniemy led an offense with the most passing attempts in the NFL — and the fewest rushing attempts — as they lost their final eight games.

Howell did some good things for Washington, at times making Rivera look like his gamble would pay off. Unfortunately, Howell struggled badly in the second half of the season. He was benched twice and finished with as many interceptions (21) as touchdowns (21).

The Commanders moved on from Rivera and hired Adam Peters as the general manager. Peters hired Dan Quinn to replace Rivera.

Last week, Washington moved on from Howell, sending him to the Seattle Seahawks in a pick swap that netted the Commanders Seattle’s third-round pick.

Rivera is now a member of ESPN, making his debut earlier this month. Last week, he was a guest on You Better You Bet” on BetQL, discussing the Commanders moving on from Howell. 

“Well, I think it was a smart move for both teams,” Rivera said. “Just because of the way the draft picks were traded. It gives the Commanders, I believe, six in the first two days, which is outstanding. And then you look at what Seattle gets; Seattle gets probably, who is gonna be a solid backup that has the ability to be a starter in this league. And I really like what they’ve done. Now you know, with Geno as their starter, gives them a guy, in case something happens, can come in and, I think, do a nice job running their offense for them.”

Remember what Rivera said about Howell last offseason and in the early weeks of the 2023 season? That sure sounds like a different tone. He still praised Howell but made sure to use the term “backup.”

Who does Rivera think Peters and the Commanders will select at No. 2 overall in next month’s NFL draft?

In his first episode on “NFL Live” earlier this month, Rivera linked LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to the Commanders. Rivera referenced new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and the style of offense he wants to run as a reason he believes Daniels will be Washington’s pick.

He reiterated that stance in this interview.

“Oh, I think they go with Jayden Daniels,” Rivera said of Washington. “This is about who’s going to fit that style of offense that Kliff Kingsbury is bringing to town. That’s why they went out and signed Marcus Mariota, and I think that’s what you’re going to get. I really do. I think that’s the kind of player they’re looking for, and I think he’s dynamic enough.”

Washington fans will likely roll their eyes at Rivera’s thoughts. In fairness, he was asked the question. The Daniels’ connections to Washington make sense, as do the Drake Maye ties. When everyone mentions mobility, they apparently forget that Maye is pretty mobile, too, and offers a higher upside as a passer.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire