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Commanders sign Jacoby Brissett, adding quarterback depth

Jacoby Brissett (7) avoids Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes (56) in the second half of an Oct. 2022 game. (Julio Cortez/AP)
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The Washington Commanders reached an agreement on a one-year deal with quarterback Jacoby Brissett on Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the contract said.

Brissett will compete for the Commanders’ starting job with second-year quarterback Sam Howell, whom the team has said will get every chance to win the top role. But he will have to earn it in organized team activities and training camp.

“Sam will have every opportunity to win that starting job,” General Manager Martin Mayhew said at the NFL combine. “Was very impressed with the way that he played and practiced last year. Obviously, a very small sample — he only played in one game — but we got to see him the whole offseason. We have to see him all through training camp, every week in practice. He has the skills that it takes to be a starter in this league, in my opinion.”

The Commanders have remade the quarterbacks room annually during Ron Rivera’s tenure as coach. Their most experienced “starter” since 2020 was backup Taylor Heinicke, who agreed Tuesday to a two-year deal with the Falcons that is worth up to $20 million.

Commanders move on at QB after Taylor Heinicke agrees to deal with Falcons

Now, as Washington adjusts to a new offense led by coordinator Eric Bieniemy, it moves forward with Howell, Brissett and Jake Fromm. The team could also pick a rookie in the upcoming draft.

A third-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2016, Brissett played last season for the Cleveland Browns. He started the first 11 games while Deshaun Watson was suspended, leading the Browns to a 4-7 record. On the season, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions for an 88.9 passer rating. He also had 243 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Brissett spent 2021 with the Miami Dolphins after a four-year stint in Indianapolis. The Colts acquired him in 2017 in a trade with New England, with which Brissett was third string behind Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. Andrew Luck had undergone offseason shoulder surgery, and the Colts needed insurance. Brissett ended up starting 15 of 16 games that season and played in four the following year as Luck’s backup.

When Luck abruptly retired just weeks before the 2019 opener, Brissett was thrust back into a starting role and guided the Colts to a 7-8 record in 15 starts. He resumed his role as a backup when the Colts signed Philip Rivers the next season.

Brissett’s experience as the No. 2 and as a fill-in starter fits what Washington set out to find this offseason.

Daron Payne agrees to four-year, $90 million deal with Commanders

“I think it’s important to have somebody with some experience on the field playing,” Mayhew said. “I think it’s also important to have somebody who can understand our scheme, who can learn our scheme and has an ability to be another sort of coach on the sideline for [Howell]. A guy that can support him and … be sort of a sounding board for him. I think that’s what really helped Pat Mahomes, playing behind Alex Smith out there. I think it probably helped Aaron Rodgers playing behind Brett Favre.”

Washington wanted to keep costs minimal at the position while giving Howell a veteran mentor. Doing so allowed the team to continue filling out its roster and retain some of its key players. Already this week, the Commanders re-signed defensive tackle Daron Payne to a four-year, $90 million deal and added help on the offensive line.