Are the Washington Commanders already plotting a bold move in pursuit of landing a long-term franchise quarterback in 2024?
Sam Howell's benching comes with many layers attached. None is more important than what the Washington Commanders have planned for the quarterback position in 2024.
It doesn't seem likely that the new regime will continue with Howell under center. With big changes come fresh ideas. And the Commanders are in a tremendous position to select one of the premier college prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft should they see fit.
Commanders could make bold play for Caleb Williams
This was a topic brought up by Dan Graziano of ESPN recently. He revealed many around the league believe Commanders have set their sights on Caleb Williams, who hails from the D.C. area. The insider also claimed Washington might be considering the possibility of trading up to No. 1 overall if the situation presents itself.
"The Commanders are a team to watch over the coming weeks for a number of reasons. With new ownership in place, changes are expected on the coaching staff and in the front office -- and potentially at quarterback. If the season ended right now, Washington would hold the No. 3 pick in the draft. If it loses its last two and Arizona wins one, it could get as high as No. 2. There's some thought around the league that Washington is very interested in Caleb Williams, a Washington, D.C., native who's the strong favorite to be picked first overall. The Commanders, with a break here or there over the next couple of weeks, could find themselves in position to either draft Williams or trade up a spot or two to get him."- Dan Graziano, ESPN
Much will depend on what a new brain trust decides given they aren't even in the building yet. Josh Harris cannot go down the meddling owner route. He must let the football men make football decisions to avoid any unnecessary complications.
Williams had an up-and-down final college year at USC, but his intangibles are absolutely off the charts. He has that rare ability to conjure up magic out of nothing. To make every throw possible with ease. To provide the sort of excitement that will get even the most disillusioned Commanders fans back into the stands.
Taking a quarterback with their high-end draft pick is becoming more likely than ever. Howell's regression is the primary reason, something that came at the worst possible time and left his long-term prospects in tatters.
This would ignore the temptation of solidifying the left tackle position with someone like Joe Alt or Olu Fashanu. However, the Commanders are rich in draft capital and could have around $100 million to spend in free agency once the necessary cuts come to fruition.
If taking a quarterback is the play, then the protection must be strengthened in other ways. It's hard to predict which way the Commanders are going to go with so much uncertainty right now. But that's what makes the next few weeks and months so exciting for a fanbase that's had relatively little to cheer over the last two decades.
Williams could be the franchise-changing quarterback this organization has craved for years. It might be Drake Maye. It could potentially be someone like Michael Penix Jr. depending on how the pre-draft evaluation process plays out.
One also wonders if the Chicago Bears would be willing trade partners for a second-straight year from No. 1 overall. They are playing with house money - this is the Carolina Panthers' pick they acquired during their move down last season - but passing up on Williams or Maye in favor of giving Justin Fields another shot is a huge gamble.
Things aren't particularly clear one way or the other. But make no mistake, it won't take long for that to change once the offseason starts rolling.