ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington football team has contracted Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback, but coach Ron Rivera said the description is for training camp only. That way, Rivera wants to make sure Fitzpatrick gets the job, which could mean beating the rookie.

There will be competition, Rivera said Thursday.

Rivera said last summer that it was a mistake to not have true quarterback competition and give the spot to Dwayne Haskins because there were no preseason games and the team wanted him to start the season as prepared as possible. After four games, Rivera lost to Haskins and the team finished the season with one game in hand.

Rivera said he did not want to repeat the lack of competition, although Fitzpatrick, entering his 17th season with the team, said he was not looking for a repeat. The season winding down has more experience in making decisions, which makes it harder to dismiss. Right now, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke are the only two contenders for the starting position.



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I know who the starter is this time, but he’ll be competing with everyone else, Rivera said of Fitzpatrick’s first contract. I want whoever is playing to give us the best chance to win, the best chance to grow and develop as a football team.

It’s also possible that one of Fitzpatrick’s competitors is a rookie selected later this month. Rivera downplays the need to contract a quarterback, but sources have consistently said since signing Fitzpatrick that Washington would like to contract a quarterback. It wants a talented young pass rusher – and maybe the team won’t take him in the 19th, but maybe in the second or third round, according to a source.

When we decide what to pick, anything can happen, Rivera said. We have goals, we have ideas, we have guys we like, but it always changes because everyone has a choice. You never know what will happen.

However, Rivera said there is no pressure at this time. Washington can skip the quarterback by focusing on building a roster and trying again next season.

In 2011, Rivera’s first pick was Carolina quarterback Camera Newton, who was chosen by a wide margin. But, according to Rivera, it took four years to surround him with the talent he needed. That’s what happened that year when Carolina went 15-1 and reached the Super Bowl. Rivera said they may have to take a different approach in Washington.

I’ve always thought that if you could do things differently, which is to put all the other things in place and then go get your quarterback, that could be a good situation too, he said.

Washington tried to trade Matthew Stafford and polled for other quarterbacks, but Fitzpatrick was still there; in his 20 starts at Miami, he threw a total of 33 touchdowns against 21 interceptions. Washington appreciates how his experience will help young players develop offensively.

There are many benefits to having people like that, Rivera said. If I was in Carolina and we had to face him, we’d sit down and talk: God, this guy… There’s something about that guy. We are curious to see how it all develops and how it fits into our lives.

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