The Washington Commanders traded quarterback Sam Howell to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month in a pick swap that gave Washington the No. 78 overall pick in next month’s 2024 NFL draft.

UNC Football: Sam Howell atop the NFL leaderboard in two categories

Seattle gave the Commanders third and fifth-round choices in exchange for fourth and sixth-round picks. Most liked the trade for both teams. Howell, who started all 17 games last season, wouldn’t start for the Commanders in 2024 with a new regime. Holding the No. 2 overall pick gave Washington a chance to draft its quarterback for the future.

From the Commanders’ perspective, it gave them another day-two pick to surround their next quarterback. As for Seattle, it was a small price to pay for a backup quarterback with starting experience. The Seahawks have veteran Geno Smith at quarterback, but some believe Howell could push him.

While most loved the trade for the Commanders, Kevin Patra of saw things differently.

He gave the Seahawks an A- and the Commanders a C+.

I like this move by Seattle after Drew Lock left for the New York Giants. The Seahawks received a backup QB with starting experience by moving down a couple of rounds. That’s smart shopping. Not only that, but Howell will count less than $1 million on the cap in 2024 and $1.1 million in 2025, per Over The Cap. Howell played well in spurts, but things started to unravel down the stretch as defenses got more tape on the UNC product. The start of his career has some parallels to Lock’s. Howell turned it over a lot (as did Lock), including 21 INTs in 17 starts in 2023, but he also put up nearly 4,000 yards passing behind a bad offensive line. If Geno Smith gets injured, Howell has enough game play to keep the ship from sinking. The 23-year-old’s skill set should also mesh well with OC Ryan Grubb. Given the low cost — in picks and dollars — Howell’s presence also wouldn’t stop Seattle from adding a rookie QB to the mix this year or next.

The market for backup quarterbacks wasn’t great, particularly given how many we saw play significant snaps last season. Netting a 24-spot move-up and a 27-spot move-up in this year’s draft barely moves the needle for a QB with 18 games of starting experience. Yet, Howell was a former fifth-round pick, not a first-rounder like others who were traded this offseason. The move clears the way for Washington to use the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback with Marcus Mariota as the veteran mentor. Given the film Mariota put up the past couple of seasons, I’d rather have Howell available if my backup needed actually to play, but from an experience/mentor standpoint, the Commanders’ decision is understandable. The deal also gives Washington six picks in the top 100, which is needed ammo for a club that still requires depth and playmaking after a busy free-agency period.

Patra isn’t wrong here. Many others believed there were better backup options than Mariota, and if you had Howell under a cheap contract for two more seasons, then why not keep him?

The Commanders and general manager, Adam Peters, view Mariota as a perfect mentor/backup. Mariota is a former No. 2 overall pick and has had his highs and lows since entering the NFL. It’s important to remember no one knows if Mariota was Washington’s first choice for a veteran backup.

Howell belongs in the NFL. There is still the potential for him to be a starting quarterback, but that wasn’t happening in Washington. Ultimately, this was a good deal for both sides.