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Ex-scout hopes Seahawks open up QB competition between Geno, Howell

May 3, 2024, 9:31 AM | Updated: May 7, 2024, 8:13 am

Seattle Seahawks Sam Howell Washington 2023...

Sam Howell throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks are expected to enter this season with Geno Smith as their starting quarterback and Sam Howell as their backup.

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Seahawks manager John Schneider said as much back in March, just hours after they acquired the 23-year-old Howell in a trade with the Washington Commanders.

“Geno is the guy and Sam will be backing him up,” Schneider told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob. “… I’m sure there’s competition, but as of right now it’s not like we’re signing (Sam) to go and compete with Geno to be the starter.”

However, one former NFL scout thinks Seattle should open up the competition between Smith and Howell.

Jim Nagy, a former Seahawks scout and the current Senior Bowl executive director, was asked about Howell during a conversation Thursday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Nagy pointed back to former coach Pete Carroll’s decision in 2012 to hold an open QB competition between Matt Flynn and then-rookie Russell Wilson despite Seattle having just signed Flynn to a starting-caliber deal. Wilson famously won the job after an impressive preseason and went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowler with the Seahawks.


“I really hope they open it up,” said Nagy, who was an NFL scout for two decades. “I hope it’s an open competition, similar to like when they had Russell and Matt Flynn. And I was with the Chiefs when Russell came in at Kansas City in the preseason and lit us up. … I would love to see a legitimate open competition and see where this thing comes out because I think Sam’s a starting quarterback in the league.”

The Sam Howell backstory

Howell had an impressive first two college seasons at North Carolina in 2019 and 2020. Entering his 2021 campaign with the Tar Heels, he was expected to be in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick in the following spring’s NFL Draft.

However, his production fell off during his junior season. One likely contributing factor was the surrounding talent. North Carolina’s top two receivers and top two running backs from 2020 each were selected in the 2021 draft, leaving Howell with less talent around him that year. Howell ended up falling to the Commanders in the fifth round of the 2022 draft.

“That’s still a head-scratcher, man, how that guy (fell to) the fifth round,” Nagy said. “It didn’t make a lot of sense. His best tape was his sophomore tape, there’s no question, because he had a lot of NFL guys around him that year. And then his junior year, the year he came out, he didn’t have those guys and we just saw him run the ball a ton. He was just running over people that junior year.”

Howell started one game for the Commanders in 2022 and then all 17 games for the team in 2023. He completed 63.4% of his passes last season for 3,946 yards and 21 touchdowns, but also threw a league-high 21 interceptions and was sacked a league-high 65 times. He rushed for 263 yards and five scores, as well.

Howell had one of his best games of the season last year against the Seahawks, completing 29 of 44 passes for 312 yards, three TDs and no interceptions in Washington’s 29-26 loss to Seattle on Nov. 12.

Roughly four months after that game, the Seahawks traded draft capital to acquire Howell from the Commanders. Nagy said he’d like to see how Howell would fare with a better array of talent than he had in Washington.

“I give Seattle a lot of credit that they went out and traded for a guy that they thought highly of through the draft process,” Nagy said. “You’ve got a guy who’s younger than some of these (QBs) that were in this draft class, who’s got all this game experience. … I’d just love to see him with a better supporting cast.”

Listen to the full conversation with Jim Nagy from Thursday’s Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

• Position swap pays off for Seattle Seahawks’ first-rounder Murphy
• Seahawks GM John Schneider explains this year’s draft strategy
• Schneider: Seahawks have plan for ‘tight’ salary cap situation
• Seahawks Draft Grades: Insider on best pick, biggest reach
• There’s a very telling story behind Seattle Seahawks drafting Murphy

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