Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew on Wednesday acknowledged the obvious — the franchise is looking everywhere for a quarterback.
“We feel we have canvassed the league effectively,” Mayhew told reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “We’ve spoken to every club that has a quarterback who might be available.”
That means they’ve inquired about quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, among others. Both likely remain longshots to be traded, which means Washington would have to move on to other options.
“Every time you hear something, you’re checking into it,” Washington coach Ron Rivera told reporters Tuesday. “And so we’ve got to do our work. We’ve got to do our due diligence.”
Rivera said they had four options: trading for someone, signing a free agent, drafting someone or sticking with Taylor Heinicke.
Mayhew said that while they consider Heinicke to be “the ultimate competitor,” they’re trying to upgrade. The franchise has started 32 quarterbacks since it last won the Super Bowl following the 1991 season; it has started eight in the past three seasons.
One source told ESPN that the Commanders had compiled an initial lengthy list of around 40 quarterbacks to at least discuss or investigate, including those in college.
Said Mayhew: “There aren’t three dozen upgrades to what we have. There are numerous options available to us and we’re trying to work through that now.”
The San Francisco 49ers have made it known that Jimmy Garoppolo is available in a trade. Washington also will strongly consider the free agent market, where they could sign Mitchell Trubisky or Teddy Bridgewater and possibly pair them with a second- or third-round quarterback.
“It is very challenging,” Rivera said of finding a franchise quarterback. “I was very fortunate in Carolina. We found our franchise quarterback [Cam Newton] right away. We drafted him. … When you get that guy, it makes things a lot easier. Not having that guy has really put the onus on us.”
Washington tried to trade for Matthew Stafford last offseason, offering a first- and third-round pick to the Detroit Lions, who instead dealt him to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round picks, a third-round selection and quarterback Jared Goff.
“If you don’t have a franchise quarterback, you have to have urgency about [finding one] every year,” Mayhew said. “We were very urgent about it last year. I’m not sure that was a fair fight for Matthew last year, I’ll leave it there. We did everything we could to find the right guy.”
Lions general manager Brad Holmes had spent the previous eight seasons with the Rams.
Washington also made it clear last offseason that it did not want to mortgage the team’s future. That’s one reason it considered trading up last spring to draft Justin Fields, but felt the price tag was too steep.
Rivera, however, has expressed confidence in where the roster is now, leading to a desire to be more aggressive.
“Does anybody really care what was traded for Matthew Stafford last year? No,” Rivera said.
Mayhew said there didn’t seem to be a consensus No. 1 quarterback in this year’s rookie class. He also said they’re considering who will be available next year as well.
“This is a quality quarterback class this year,” Mayhew said. “As of right now, I think there may be some separation here at the combine. We may see some of that happening. But we’re aware of what our options are as far as next year too. We are looking to address it now, if possible. And that’s where our focus is.”
Mayhew and Rivera both talked about the importance of the offseason interviews with potential draft picks, both to ascertain their football intelligence and their maturity level. In an ideal world, Rivera said, they find someone who is a pure passer as well as athletic.
“If you can find a guy that can do both,” he said, “you’re very fortunate.”