Tuesday, March 21 2023

Could Sam Howell go from being a Day 3 NFL draft pick and practice squad quarterback for the Washington Commanders to the team’s starter in 2023, despite making just one start in his rookie season?

In a Wednesday appearance on NFL Network, Washington head coach Ron Rivera endorsed Howell as his 2023 quarterback when asked whether the team’s Week 1 starter is on its roster.

“I know this, we will go into OTAs, minicamp and training camp with Sam Howell more likely [than not] QB1, and we’ll see what happens,” Rivera said. “It’s his opportunity. This is a challenge to him. If he comes out and does the things we believe he’s capable of, he can most certainly be our guy, but we’ll find out. And again, that’s what competition’s gonna do. It’s gonna bring out the best in all our guys.”

Howell, who the Commanders selected with the No. 144 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of North Carolina, started their final game of the 2022 season, a 26-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. In said game, Howell totaled 169 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception and an 83.0 passer rating, completing 57.9% of his passes. He also ran for 35 yards and a touchdown.


Carson Wentz started Washington’s first six games before suffering a thumb injury. Taylor Heinicke took his place and kept the job through Week 15. The Commanders went back to Wentz in Weeks 16 and 17 before giving Howell the starting nod in Week 18. Washington went 8-8-1, good for last in an NFC East division that saw three teams make the playoffs (Philadelphia Eagles, Cowboys and New York Giants).

Washington acquired Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts last offseason, sending the No. 42 and 73 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and a conditional 2023 third-rounder to Indianapolis for Wentz and the No. 47 and 237 picks in the 2022 draft.

Howell, Wentz and Jake Fromm are the quarterbacks that Washington has under contract for next season.

If Howell — a three-year starter at North Carolina — indeed becomes Washington’s starting quarterback, it’ll mark the seventh consecutive year that it has a new Week 1 quarterback (Wentz, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins). 

According to Over The Cap, the Commanders have roughly $4.8 million in effective cap space this offseason. They select 16th in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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