New Seahawks QB Sam Howell ‘excited’ to be in Seattle

May 30, 2024, 6:38 PM | Updated: 10:15 pm

Washington Commanders Sam Howell Seattle Seahawks 2023...

Former Washington Commanders QB Sam Howell scrambles against the Seattle Seahawks in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

As a first-year starting quarterback last season, Sam Howell nearly led the Washington Commanders to an upset of the Seattle Seahawks inside the roaring confines of Lumen Field.

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Dueling with Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith during an action-packed fourth quarter, Howell orchestrated a pair of game-tying touchdown drives, including a 35-yard TD pass that evened the score with 52 seconds left. But the veteran Smith answered right back, marching Seattle downfield for a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Six months later, the 23-year-old Howell is now donning Seahawks blue and sharing a quarterback room with Smith.

Speaking to the media Thursday for the first time since being traded to Seattle in March, Howell still vividly recalls that Week 10 game against the Seahawks last season.

“I remember we should have won,” Howell said with a laugh after Seattle wrapped up the fifth of its 10 OTA practices. “But it was a good battle. I just remember we got the ball down seven in the fourth quarter and I’ve never heard a stadium that loud. I think we might have had to use two timeouts on that drive just because it was hard for us to communicate. So it’ll definitely be fun to be on the other side of that.”

After former Seahawks backup quarterback Drew Lock departed in free agency, Seattle acquired Howell in a March 14 pick swap with the Commanders. Howell, a 2022 fifth-round pick who started all 17 games for Washington last year, said he was excited to come to Seattle and join first-year head coach Mike Macdonald’s team.

“Once I kind of got the idea that me being traded was a possibility, Seattle was one of those places that I wanted to come be a part of,” Howell said. “I’m just super excited to be here, and I think coach Mike’s done a great job of starting to build this thing. This is definitely one of those places that even coming out of the draft I wanted to come to. I just love being in this city, I love being a part of this team and I’m just excited to get to work.”

The 33-year-old Smith is the clear front-runner to start for the Seahawks again this fall. After Seattle traded away longtime franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in March 2022, Smith beat Lock for the starting job and resurrected his career with a breakout 2022 campaign. Smith had an up-and-down season last year while playing behind an injury-depleted offensive line, but closed with a strong finish.

Howell said he wasn’t concerned about being traded to a team that might already have an established starting quarterback.

“In this league, to be able to play, you’ve gotta compete,” Howell said. “And that’s what I’m willing to do. No matter what the situation is, no matter who the starter is, I’m coming to compete every single day. And Geno has been great. I’ve learned a lot from Geno and he’s a great player. I have a lot of respect for him and everything he’s been through in his career, just the way he’s always battled and bounced back.

“So I’m excited to be here with Geno and learn from him and just compete with him. We battle every single day. We want to make each other better. And at the end of the day, we’re on the same team. Whoever’s out there, we’re going to support each other and try to help this team win.”

After playing just one game as a rookie in 2022, Howell won the starting job in Washington last season and attempted more passes than any other quarterback in the NFL. He threw for 3,946 yards and 21 TDs, while adding 263 yards and five scores on the ground. But he threw a league-high 21 interceptions, was sacked a league-high 65 times and logged just a 63.4% completion rate.

“At times when we were down big in some games, I was a little too aggressive just trying to make something happen, trying to get us back in the game,” Howell said. “The turnovers were just way too high. … So that’s definitely something that I can take from last year – just playing better football, playing smarter football.”

As Howell and the rest of the Seahawks learn a new offense under first-year offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, Macdonald said he likes what he’s seen from the young quarterback.

“I think he is representative of where we’re at as a football team,” Macdonald said. “I think Sam has improved every time we’ve come out here and it’s really exciting. He’s throwing the ball really well. Today, he made some really good decisions in some situational work that was exciting to see with (us) only going over it in one day. So (his) football intelligence is high. Obviously his ability is what it needs to be. So he’s right there. I think he mirrors where we’re at as a team right now, so we’re excited about Sam.”

Howell, meanwhile, is just staying in the present.

“I really don’t worry too much about the future or what plans they might have for me, just because nobody really knows,” Howell said. “I think you just got to take it one day at a time and do the best you can and just kind of see what happens.”

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