The Washington Football Team fanbase might have seen its quarterback battle decided already with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Of course, when giving a player $10.5 million in free agency, the expectation is they will be the full-fledged starter.
WFT coach Ron Rivera doesn't see it that way. Instead, Fitzpatrick will enter training camp as QB1, but the head coach expects a great competition between him and Taylor Heinicke.
"I just feel that going into this knowing we have a proven guy [Fitzpatrick] that has the ability to lead us, but again, we have a guy in Taylor that shows us he can do it," Rivera said Thursday. "They are going to compete, they are going to push, and I'm looking forward to it."
Rivera says that the QB position would be decided by "competition" entering September, with the best man for the job claiming the title.
Therefore, Fitzpatrick, who signed this offseason, won't be handed the position until he proves he's earned it.
Of course, one assumes that based off the past production and the vibes coming out of camp, the 38-year-old veteran has enough "Fitzmagic" to show he's the right guy.
In any case, Rivera see the competition as one that will bring the team closer together.
"It's going to push our football team and make our football team better," Rivera said.
Heinicke, who at this time last season wasn't even on a roster following the XFL ceasing operations, has been a fan favorite in D.C. with his near-comeback effort in the playoffs loss against Tampa Bay. After throwing for 306 yards and a touchdown, there's no denying he's earned a roster spot for now.
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Washington won't just decide between those two. Kyle Allen is expected to be in the mix at some level following his return from a season-ending ankle injury. Last season, Allen started four games for WFT.
If you don't believe that Rivera is considering Allen, at least a bit, remember this; he traded a fifth-round pick to bring him over from Carolina after working with him in the Queen City.
Once he is at 100%, best believe that Allen will have his fair chance to take a crack at playing time as well.
"It's going to be a good competition. I look forward to it," Rivera said.
Last season, a COVID-19-plagued offseason ceased all spring activities for Rivera to see what could be accomplished offensively. Instead of letting the QBs fight it out, he elected to go with former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins.
The choice backfired. The second-year product struggled immensely. After multiple off-the-field incidents, Haskins was released before the season's conclusion.
With a full offseason at hand, Rivera is keeping an open mind.
In the recent NFL Draft, Washington elected to stand pat instead of trading up to draft a quarterback. In fact, they had multiple opportunities in the second and third round last April to select a QB, yet didn't.
Rivera feels comfortable with Fitzpatrick, Allen and Heinicke around for the season. Four quarterbacks were able to snag seven wins and the division title in 2020.
The hope is the right guy will take charge and win even more in 2021.
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