The Seahawks Traded For Sam Howell?!

Huh.

The Seahawks get Sam Howell (2 years left on his rookie deal), a 4th & 6th rounder (102 & 179 respectively); the Commanders get a 3rd & 5th (78 & 152 respectively).

There’s conflicting reports about what kind of value the Washington Football Team received – anywhere from the equivalent of a late 3rd round pick, all the way down to a 7th round pick – but all I see is now the Seahawks have traded away their only second round pick and the higher of their two third round picks. We have all of 7 draft picks this year, 5 of them in the fourth round or later (in a draft, mind you, that is universally panned for its lack of depth on Day 3).

But, okay whatever. We’ll deal with that later. For now, what do we have in Sam Howell?

We have a guy who was a 5th round pick in 2022. A guy who started all 17 games in 2023. A guy who led the league in pass attempts (612), interceptions (21), and times sacked (65). He completed 63.4% of passes, for 3,946 yards, 21 TDs, and 6.4 yards per attempt. Geno Smith was 7.3 yards per attempt, if we’re into comparing numbers.

According to Brady Henderson, Washington was 14th in pass block win rate, so it’s not like we can even blame a shitty O-Line. I will say, though, that we COULD probably blame the shittiness of the team as a whole, with the defense being particularly atrocious in the second half of the season (when they lost 8 in a row); considering he was always forced into throwing them back into games, it’s not a shocker that he’d be a little mistake prone.

But, even that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water, because if a quarterback is truly great, shouldn’t he lift up an inferior team? Sam Howell might be a lot of things, but “great” isn’t one of them. I think he’s fine. On the low end, he’s probably Drew Lock. On the high end, he’s probably a poor man’s Baker Mayfield. That’s a nice little middle-range where Geno Smith also resides, albeit with different skills and different deficiencies.

Geno can be pretty accurate. Geno is mistake-averse. And, I thought he showed some improvement in 2023 in avoiding sacks and getting the ball out of his hands quickly (by offensive design, naturally), but he too tends to hold onto the ball too long, and takes too many back-breaking sacks on third down. The main difference between Geno and Sam is that Sam can actually scramble. He can better extend those third down plays when it’s an obvious passing situation and opposing defenses are gearing up to take his head off.

The main question will be processing. How quickly can Sam Howell process what’s going on? How quickly can he read the defense and find the right receiver (or check to the right play to take advantage of what the other team is giving him)?

This doesn’t change my conviction that the Seahawks need to draft a quarterback. But, I don’t know how they’re going to do that! If they don’t draft one in the first round, if they don’t trade down to acquire more picks, then what is this going to look like?

What this does do, however, is give credence to possibly eating a bunch of Geno’s salary and trading him to a needy team that wants a middle-of-the-road veteran quarterback. Could we sucker a team like the Raiders or Titans into giving us a draft pick or two? What if we sweeten the deal with a D.K. Metcalf?

On its own, I don’t love this move. Sam Howell doesn’t appear to be an obvious upgrade over Geno Smith, and I’m not even sure he’s an upgrade over Drew Lock!

But, I’m told Howell allegedly has a strong arm. And I kinda like how he’s not just a Checkdown Charlie. But, 21 interceptions and 65 sacks is absolutely unforgivable.

Ultimately, my opinion on this move will hinge on whether or not the Seahawks draft a quarterback this year. And, failing that, it’s going to hinge on how quickly we choose to move on from Geno Smith. If we have no rookie, and if we blow through the entire 2024 season with Geno at the helm, I’m going to be extremely upset when we end up with another 9-win campaign.

Not that I necessarily believe Howell would be able to do any better. But, I think it’s fair to say there’s at least a little uncertainty about his ceiling. We know Geno’s ceiling; we’ve lived it the last two years. I want fresh blood!

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