Washington head coach Ron Rivera disclosed Fitzpatrick will the No. 1 quarterback this offseason, but he won't hand him the job. In typical Fitzpatrick fashion, he'll have to battle for the job if he wants to keep it.
"He's going to come in as the No. 1, but there will be a competition," Rivera said during a conference call Thursday. "We want to play the best football player, obviously, that gives us the best opportunity to win. We feel very comfortable and very confident in the guys that we have. Ryan gives us a completely different type of football player. We're excited about who we can become as a football team."
Fitzpatrick was signed to a one-year, $10 million contract last month -- more than enough money to be a starting quarterback for 2021. Washington also committed two years to Taylor Heinicke, who threw for 306 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 46 yards and a score in the Football Team's wild card playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Heinicke showcased enough under Rivera last season to get a serious look as the QB1 for 2021.
"For the most part, competition does create the opportunity to have guys go out there and really try to put it all out on the line," Rivera said. "As I said last year, one of the mistakes I made, obviously, was I didn't have the true competition. I felt going in the idea was to give [former QB] Dwayne [Haskins Jr.] as many reps as possible to get him ready to play.
"This time, I know who we have as the starter, but he's going to go in and he's going to compete with everybody else. Like I said, I want to play the guy that's going to give us the best opportunity to win, the best opportunity to grow and develop as a football team."
Fitzpatrick completed a career-high 68.5% of his passes for 2,091 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 95.6 passer rating at the age of 38. He was the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins before being benched for Tua Tagovailoa, despite Miami going 3-3 in his first six games. Fitzpatrick relieved Tagovailoa in two games after being replaced, completing 64.3% of his passes for 556 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in relief duty (with one start for an injured Tagovailoa).
Washington is excited to add Fitzpatrick, as Rivera believes he will make the entire roster better and bring out the best in his young team.
"[He's] a savvy veteran who has had a lot of success and who has worked with a lot of other quarterbacks, a lot of young quarterbacks, who's been in a lot of different systems," Rivera said. "Also, just the fact that when you look at his numbers analytically, he's actually improved in his play in the last couple years, too. There are a lot of positive things about having this type of guy around.
"I'm pretty excited, I really am. He was a guy that when I was in Carolina at one time and we had to compete against him, you always sat there and go: 'Gosh, this guy — there's something about this guy.' It's going to be intriguing for us to see exactly how it unfolds and how it fits with us."