Dan Quinn's post-trade contradiction should infuriate Sam Howell

They liked him, just not enough...
Dan Quinn
Dan Quinn / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn's post-trade comments about moving quarterback Sam Howell came off as contradictory.

The NFL is a cutthroat business. Sam Howell found that out first-hand this offseason after being traded to the Seattle Seahawks for pick swaps. Something that seemed inevitable considering the Washington Commanders are in a prime spot to take their future franchise quarterback at No. 2 overall in the draft.

Howell will back up Geno Smith in Seattle. One could make a strong case for the signal-caller being dealt a feeble hand during his one full season as the Commanders starter. Eric Bieniemy's pass-happy scheme put far too much pressure on the player and the offensive line was nothing short of porous as he became the league's most sacked quarterback in 2023.

There was a lot to like about Howell's flashes. Some performances were exceptional in difficult circumstances. But with a new regime coming on board with ambitious plans to take the franchise forward, it seemed unlikely he'd get a reprieve despite the pleas from some fans.

Commanders explain decision to trade Sam Howell

Dan Quinn discussed the decision to trade Howell during his press availability at the NFL owners' meetings. While he acknowledged the player's capabilities, the Commanders felt like this was a win-win opportunity for all sides involved based on comments via Ben Standig from The Athletic.

"I've said it before, how impressed I was as Sam as a competitive, tough guy. And I thought once in a while in our league there's a good win-win that takes place. And I think Sam heading to Seattle, they're excited to have him. He's got a great opportunity there with those guys. For us, you know, Marcus [Mariota] being here, you know, that was an opportunity that we want to do as well. So, every once in a while, those win-wins happen but I certainly respect who the player is. I got a chance to coach against him and that's what I told him when we spoke."

Dan Quinn via X

So the Commanders liked Howell and marveled over his toughness in the face of substantial adversity. Just not enough to give him a fighting chance under their way of thinking.

This seems like a contradiction - one that might infuriate Howell as he gears up for his fresh challenge. However, getting too emotional about it wouldn't be smart from the player's standpoint.

After all, this is a business above all else.

Howell should have been aware of what might be on the horizon. He knew the Commanders were probably looking at replacing him at some stage. But after Marcus Mariota signed in free agency, even a backup role was out of reach.

That's a little harsh considering Howell's scope for further improvements if he takes on the harsh lessons from a rollercoaster 2023 campaign. That said, harboring resentment towards the Commanders isn't going to do the former North Carolina star any favors whatsoever in pursuit of hitting the ground running in a different environment.

Instead of being bitter, Howell should use being cast aside as a source of motivation. Smith is Seattle's starter, but he's not going to be around much longer all things considered. If the 2021 fifth-rounder dusts himself off, learns from the experienced veteran, takes on coaching, and refines certain areas of his game, getting another opportunity is well within his capabilities.

Howell might feel slighted - especially with Quinn's latest comments - but it's time to move on.

As for the Commanders? They have a franchise-altering choice to make. One that is going to come with severe ramifications attached for good or bad.