Commanders braced for franchise-altering choice after trading Sam Howell

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders are officially gearing up for a franchise-altering decision after trading quarterback Sam Howell.

After the Washington Commanders secured the No. 2 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft and signed free agent Marcus Mariota, the writing was on the wall for Sam Howell. Fortunately for the quarterback, general manager Adam Peters didn't leave him in limbo for too long.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Commanders have traded Howell to the Seattle Seahawks for pick swaps. This provides Peters with extra ammunition in the top 100 and gives the former fifth-round pick out of North Carolina the chance to sit behind Geno Smith to potentially take over from the veteran one day.

Here are the terms reported:


This brings an end to Howell's whirlwind time in DC. While one could argue he was set up to fail by Ron Rivera and Eric Bieniemy, his regression over the second half of 2023 coupled with a new regime coming into the fold meant this was always the realistic outcome.

Commanders face franchise-altering choice at No. 2 overall

Now, for the hard part.

Howell being moved on confirms what many have suspected for some time. The Commanders will be selecting a quarterback from No. 2. While speculation continues regarding a bombshell move to atop the draft for Caleb Williams, it would take a king's ransom of epic proportions for the Chicago Bears to even consider the possibility.

They've had a hard time moving Justin Fields this offseason. That should not detract them from selecting Williams, seen as a potentially generational talent by many and one that could change their fortunes in the blink of an eye.

Should this likely scenario come to fruition, the Commanders will choose between Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. It'll be the most important decision Peters will ever make in his new role. One that is going to shape the franchise's future for good or bad.

The fanbase is currently split between Maye and Daniels. This is likely to remain until the big night arrives. Peters is a strong talent evaluator and there are high-quality personnel across the operation to lean on throughout the process. But those in power feel comfortable enough about both to remove Howell completely from the equation.

Daniels is the wildcard. He's riding on the crest of a wave and has game-changing qualities in keeping with modern-day quarterbacks. Some feel like he's peaked, but the LSU prospect might be starting a special upward trend at the same time.

As for Maye? He gets Justin Herbert comparisons for a reason. His arm is electrifying and he can make effortless throws across all three levels. Some footwork issues need to be resolved, but his ceiling might be higher than Daniels' if everything comes together.

Nobody will wish Howell anything but the best. He was dealt a poor hand and kept plugging away in tough circumstances. But with new faces come different ideas and the young gunslinger was always fighting a losing battle.

Of course, risking it all for Williams - the hometown hero with the world at his feet - will come up in discussions. Maye or Daniels wouldn't be a bad consolation prize by any stretch of the imagination, but the importance of picking the right one cannot be overstated.

And make no mistake, the stakes could not be much higher.