Sam Howell's benching has major implications on Commanders offseason plans

The dip in form came at the worst possible time for Sam Howell.

Sam Howell
Sam Howell / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Howell's second-consecutive benching could have major implications on the Washington Commanders' offseason plans in 2024.

It looked for a long time as if Sam Howell was the franchise quarterback everyone associated with the Washington Commanders had been craving since Kirk Cousins left for the Minnesota Vikings in free agency. Now, his second benching in as many weeks could have huge ramifications on the team's plans this offseason.

The New England Patriots gained a surprise victory over the Denver Broncos. This surged the Commanders up to No. 3 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. It puts them in a prime position to potentially select one of the top two prospects emerging from the college ranks.

Commanders have a big decision to make with Sam Howell

Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are the consensus best. This might be a little high for LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels despite his exceptional campaign that eventually concluded with a well-deserved Heisman Trophy win.

Some sections of the fanbase are still clamoring for the Commanders to select a premier left tackle such as Olu Fashanu or Joe Alt. It also doesn't help that those making the decisions aren't currently around. Something that only adds to the level of speculation about what comes next for the franchise.

As for Howell, Rivera is going to talk things through with the former fifth-round pick out of North Carolina to ensure this recent downturn in form doesn't have any lingering effects on his long-term future based on comments via Sports Illustrated. What comes next is out of his hands given how bleak his head coaching future looks once the final two games conclude.

"You don't want Sam to overthink. I mean he's had a lot of pressure, he's been trying to do a lot of things to make things happen and you can't fault him for that. We'll talk about just the opportunities he's had how much he's learned how much he's grown you know he's got to look at this as this is just part of the things you know the process to go through it."

Ron Rivera via Sports Illustrated
Sam Howell / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Commanders shouldn't go chasing. If Williams or Maye aren't around, then one would expect the Commanders to stabilize their blindside. There's also the prospect of getting a veteran signal-caller in free agency or through the trade market. Washington has an abundance of options, but nobody knows the specific plan of attack because some significant hirings need to be made first.

Howell is keen to focus on what he can control. If he's benched in favor of Jacoby Brissett permanently, he must take it on the chin and use it as a learning experience rather than wallowing in self-pity.

His cheap contract and flashes this season indicate there could be some trade interest in Howell. It's unlikely to be much, but the player would probably welcome a fresh start if the Commanders bring in another option as expected under a new regime with different strategies in place.

This is all extremely disappointing. The best-case scenario was building around Howell's fifth-round rookie contract if he showed enough this season. Belief has waned. Confidence is low. It is not a good look when it comes to convincing coaches and front office figures with no emotional attachment to any player.

It's also the final chapter of Rivera's incompetent management of the quarterback position. Above all else, this is the primary catalyst behind his Washington demise.