4 major observations from Sam Howell's performance vs. the Cowboys in Week 18

How did Sam Howell fare in what could be his last start in Washington?

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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Sam Howell's time is (probably) up

With a heavy loss as expected, the Washington Commanders locked up the No. 2 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. This almost certainly spells the end of Sam Howell's time as the team's starting quarterback.

A new regime will want to make a splash. This is also the perfect opportunity to build around a rookie contract given they'll be guaranteed to have a shot at someone like Drake Maye or perhaps even hometown hero Caleb Williams. Howell might stick around as the backup, but his QB1 tag will be gone.

Whether Howell got a fair evaluation this season given the circumstances is a moot point. There is no emotional attachment with a different coaching staff and front office. There are too many doubts surrounding the player's performance levels and the flaws evident at the season's start haven't progressed enough.

Howell's got a taste of being a starter now. If the Commanders end up taking a top-level prospect from the college ranks, could there be some value in entertaining trade offers if there is suitable interest? Perhaps, but this means Washington needs to spend to get another veteran understudy into the mix.

It wasn't an easy situation for Howell. He's been forced to take on huge responsibilities as Eric Bieniemy struggled to find the right balance schematically. He was also playing behind arguably the worst offensive line in football for good measure.

The effort was valiant from Howell's perspective. Unfortunately, it won't be enough to keep his starting job in 2024.