Seattle Seahawks Trade For Sam Howell – What Impact Will This Have On Geno Smith?

The Seattle Seahawks were able to strike a deal with the Washington Commanders to acquire quarterback Sam Howell. Howell was picked up, pending a physical, for a third and fifth-round draft pick, although Washington is sending its own fourth and sixth-round draft picks in the deal. 

This trade might have been surprising on the end of Seattle, but it makes perfect sense. When the team stepped away from Pete Caroll and hired Mike Macdonald, it felt like the organization would go through some major changes. Already, we’ve seen that with players like Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Jamal Adams, and Quandre Diggs being let go. Plus, every new head coach these days wants to bring in their own quarterback, and Seattle basically made it to where the veteran Geno Smith would be the guy under center for at least one more year. So, how would Macdonald go about the quarterback spot? Well, they went out and grabbed a young signal caller in Howell to test Smith in training camp after they lost Drew Lock. Lock signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants, creating a hole in their backup position that’s now filled. I imagine Seattle wanted future options past Smith, and Howell was an excellent backup option for them to look at moving forward. It also eases the pressure of them taking a quarterback early in this upcoming draft, as some projected them to do. 

When you look at this trade regarding Geno Smith, it doesn’t look that great. As I stated earlier, the majority of new, young coaches in the NFL usually want to bring in their own quarterback to partner up with. That’s just how the league has worked lately. Macdonald most likely isn’t planning on sticking with Smith for the next handful of years. In all likelihood, this might be Smith’s final year as the starter in Seattle. Not only did he underperform slightly last season, but Howell will have developed a bit, and the team might draft a quarterback anyway. With Carroll as the head coach, Smith’s job was a little safer. Now, I wouldn’t say that’s the case. Not long ago, neither General Manager John Schneider nor Macdonald fully committed to Geno being their upcoming starter. Schneider said Smith would be the starter “until he’s not.” Macdonald said he’s very excited to work with Smith in this new offense. When pressed further about committing to him being their starter, he said, “I don’t want you to feel like I’m dodging this answer, but that’s what I’m excited about, for him to come in here and start to build this team the way we envision building it.”

Before we go deeper, let’s briefly examine what Howell just accomplished. Howell was the starting quarterback for the Commanders in all 17 games throughout the 2023 campaign. In those games, he was able to throw for 3,946 yards, 21 touchdowns, and a league-high 21 interceptions. For what it’s worth, he was also tasked to throw the ball the greatest number of times in the league. Oh, and he was sacked a ridiculous 65 times in the process. He had solid weapons around him, but his situation wasn’t terrific. He showed flashes of greatness and displayed wonderful grit despite being hit multiple times per game in the pocket. Assuming the Seahawks can help him get comfortable, there’s no telling how much he can progress, especially when you factor in the receiving core of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. All signs do point to Howell getting a shot at winning the starting job as soon as this year, even if it’s doubtful. Schneider said, “Geno is the guy, and Sam will be backing him up. I’m sure there’s competition, but as of right now, it’s not like we’re acquiring him to go ahead and compete with Geno to be the starter, but I’m sure he’s going to be giving it a run. He’s a competitive guy.” 

The situation regarding the quarterback spot in Seattle has been interesting lately. Both Schneider and Macdonald sidestepped the question of committing to Geno early, only to back him later and trade for Howell. Of course, Howell will be gunning for that starting gig, and it’ll be up to Geno to prove he shouldn’t be demoted. Nevertheless, competition is a good thing in any position, and Howell could help bring the best out of Geno. 

Lastly, I want to point out your direction regarding the upcoming draft. Before this trade, it felt like a guarantee that the Seahawks would at least be searching for a new quarterback in the draft. It didn’t feel like they’d target one in the first round, but that wasn’t ruled out as a possibility. With Howell on the roster, that first-round quarterback feels a little out of reach. Although, nothing is ever impossible. Perhaps Seattle is adding Howell only to provide depth, and they have no actual plans of having him develop. If that’s the case, Howell and Smith could both be gone sooner rather than later, and Seattle will target a quarterback early. That doesn’t feel like the situation here. Howell is a young talent with a strong arm and an entire season of NFL experience. At least for this season, the Seahawks could feel comfortable enough to address a different positional need in the first round.

It’s a very fascinating situation and one that I certainly didn’t see coming. Given the circumstances, I felt like the Commanders would feel somewhat confident in Howell’s performance last season. Instead, they are cleaning house with their new general manager and head coach and will almost definitely be taking a quarterback with their first-round selection. Unless they have genuine plans to start Marcus Mariota under center all season in Washington?