Rivera said he met briefly with Howell and Jacoby Brissett, who was also competing for the starting role, "and I think everybody knew that from my perspective it was Sam's to lose."
Howell was selected by the Commanders at No. 144 overall in the fifth-round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The former UNC standout started in Washington's final game of the 2022 NFL season, throwing for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 11 of 19 passing in a 26-6 win against the Dallas Cowboys.
"Seeing the growth and improvement from OTAs and mini camp and then [we] talked about going into training camp and continuing to grow and showing us what he's capable of and we've been very pleased of it to the point where I decided we were going to make him the starter going into the regular season," Rivera said of Howell's offseason development.
Howell was one of three quarterbacks to start for the Commanders in 2023, with both Taylor Heinicke (nine starts) -- who signed with the Atlanta Falcons -- and Carson Wentz (seven starts) -- who remains a free agent -- leaving the franchise this offseason.
Howell was the 12th player to start at quarterback since the 2018 NFL season, which followed the offseason in which Kirk Cousins -- who had previously started all 16 games for Washington in three consecutive seasons -- signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Commanders will host the Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season on September 10.