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Sam Howell adjusting from being starter for Commanders to likely backup with Seahawks

Quarterback says he’s already learned a lot from Geno Smith

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: May 31, 2024, 7:17pm

RENTON — Between the change in the coaching staff and a high draft pick, quarterback Sam Howell was pretty certain after last season ended, he’d no longer be in Washington even if he spent the entire year as the Commanders starting quarterback.

But with a change in scenery came the realization that Howell would have to accept the idea of taking on a backup role — which appears to be the situation he faces now as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

Howell said Thursday after the team hit the midway point of their offseason OTA practices that he was excited by the chance to join Seattle even if it meant coming to a team with an established starter already in place with Geno Smith.

“In this league to be able to play, you’ve got to compete and that’s what I’m willing to do, no matter what the situation is, no matter who the starter is. If I’m the starter, I’m coming to compete every single day,” Howell said. “Geno has been great. I’ve learned a lot from Geno and he’s a great player. I have a lot of respect for him and everything he’s been through in his career.”

In just two seasons, Howell’s been through a lot himself. He went from being a 2022 fifth-round pick of the Commanders who appeared in one game as a rookie to a starter who led the league in attempts, interceptions and sacks in just his second season.

But within that season also included some highlight moments that showed Howell has the talent to be a starter in the league. And one of his best games came against the Seahawks when he threw for 312 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 29-26 loss.

“We should have won,” Howell said.

Now given some time, Howell said he’s reflected on what he learned and what he could have done differently to cut down on some of the mistakes.

Howell threw 21 interceptions and was sacked 65 times behind an offensive line that was ravaged by injuries and poor play.

“I think I could play some smarter ball. I think there were times where we were down big in some games, I was a little too aggressive just trying to make something happen trying to get us back in the game,” Howell said. “The turnovers are just way too high for what I wanted and what the team needed. I think that’s definitely something I can take from last year.”

Howell’s trade to Seattle also included some swapping of draft picks, but the confidence the Seahawks have in what Howell can be in the short term was displayed a little more than a month ago.

While Seattle wasn’t in the running to pick one of the elite QBs that dominated the beginning of the first round of the draft, the Seahawks still had plenty of chances to grab a developmental quarterback in the later rounds of the draft.

But they didn’t, opting to go with just two quarterbacks for now — Smith and Howell.

“I think he’s representative of where we are as a football team,” Seattle coach Mike Macdonald said of Howell. “I think Sam has improved every time we’ve come out here and it’s really exciting.”

NOTES: Seattle LB Jerome Baker, a presumptive starter for Seattle, likely won’t see the field until training camp in July, Macdonald said. Baker had offseason wrist surgery but is also dealing with some lower-body ailments, Macdonald said.