4 big offseason gambles that could pay off for Commanders in 2023

(Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images) Sam Howell
(Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images) Sam Howell /
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(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Howell /

Commanders gambled on Sam Howell

When Lamar Jackson’s contract dispute with the Baltimore Ravens became increasingly bitter with each passing day, the Washington Commanders were hotly tipped to make a bold bid for the former NFL MVP. Players with his credentials don’t become available too often after all – especially heading into his prime years.

However, head coach Ron Rivera had other ideas.

He deemed – along with others in positions of power – that risking two first-round selections and a whopping new contract was not an option. Even though Jackson represents a significant upgrade on anything the Commanders have deployed under center in decades.

"“We didn’t feel it suited what we wanted to do. I know he’s a tremendous talent. I know he’s a player that can impact your team. I just didn’t think … that was the direction for us as a team.”"

Spurning the chance to sign Jackson piles yet more pressure on Sam Howell. The former fifth-round pick will enter the preparation period fighting for the No. 1 spot with Jacoby Brissett – a proven veteran presence who performed well for the Cleveland Browns last season before Deshaun Watson came back from suspension.

Howell has the talent, although he is vastly inexperienced with just one NFL start under his belt. It’s a gamble of epic proportions from Rivera, but if the North Carolina product seizes the opportunity, then it could save the head coach’s job along the way.

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