- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Washington Commanders have landed on the quarterback who will compete with Sam Howell. 

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett is expected to sign with Washington on a one-year contract, a source with knowledge of the situation said. The 30-year-old started 11 games for Cleveland last season when Deshaun Watson was suspended and impressed with a rating of 59.9 on ESPN’s advanced metric for quarterbacks. Bisset’s mark was the eighth-best in the league, and put him ahead of big names like Lamar Jackson. 

Brissett is a veteran with starting and backup experience in stints with the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Browns. He has started 48 games in 76 outings, holding a record of 18-30 as a starter. 

Brissett replaces fan-favorite Taylor Heinicke, who left a day earlier to sign a two-year, $14 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons. 

ESPN reported that Brissett’s contract is worth up to $10 million and holds $8 million guaranteed. 

Earlier in the offseason, Commanders coach Ron Rivera named Sam Howell as the team’s likely starter in 2023 after the 2022 fifth-rounder finished the year strong with an upset win over the Dallas Cowboys in his NFL debut.  But Rivera has cautioned that the 22-year-old must win the job outright through training camp. 

Brissett, in theory, could provide serious competition for Howell. Last season, Brissett threw for 2,608 yards for 12 touchdowns to six interceptions and completed a career-high 64% of his passes. The Browns went just 4-7 in those starts, though Brissett performed better statistically than Watson — who made his return in Week 13 following an 11-game suspension. 

The Commanders also landed Brissett as the market for backup quarterbacks dwindled around the league. In addition to Heinicke, a slew of mid-tier veterans had already signed elsewhere as Andy Dalton (two years, $10 million) joined the Carolina Panthers, Baker Mayfield (one year, $8.5 million) went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Mike White (two years, $8 million) latched on with the Miami Dolphins, among others. 

Before agreeing to terms with Brissett, a source said the Commanders also checked in with former Chiefs backup Chad Henne’s camp to see the recently retired 37-year-old would be interested in joining Washington. Henne would have reunited with offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who left Kansas City for Washington this offseason, but passed on the Commanders’ offer. 

Brissett, a 2016 third-rounder, is reportedly well-liked in the locker room and has drawn praise from teammates for his leadership. If Brissett loses out on the starting job to Howell, he’ll likely more than embrace a mentorship role. Last season, when the Browns turned to Watson, Brissett took the demotion in stride.

“My circumstances don’t change who I am,” Brissett told reporters October, weeks before Watson’s return. “I’m a teammate first, so I’ll continue to be that no matter what the circumstances are and figure out something else to do, right?” 

Brissett becomes the latest signing during a busy period of free agency for the Commanders. 

On Monday, the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering window, the team agreed to terms with offensive linemen Andrew Wylie (three years, $24 million) and Nick Gates (three years, $16.5 million), added linebacker Cody Barton (one-year, $3.5 million), re-signed cornerback Danny Johnson (two years, $5 million) and claimed corner Cam Dantzler off waivers from Minnesota. A day later, the Commanders fired offensive line coach John Matsko, cut running back J.D. McKissic and tendered a qualifying offer to restricted free agent safety Jeremy Reaves. 

Brissett wasn’t the team’s only move Wednesday, either. The Commanders also re-signed center Tyler Larsen and defensive lineman Efe Obada, two veterans who have played well and will provide depth. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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