Why the Seahawks Made a Sensible Move with the Sam Howell Trade - Sport News

Why the Seahawks Made a Sensible Move with the Sam Howell Trade

ORLANDO, Fla. — Yes, Sam Howell can again be a starting quarterback in the NFL, Seahawks director of football operations John Schneider said Tuesday.

“Absolutely,” Schneider said.

But that day is not today.

Instead, Schneider and coach Mike Macdonald made it clear at the NFL league meetings that Geno Smith is Seattle’s starter.

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers, Dec. 31, 2023, in Landover, Md. (Alex Brandon / The Associated Press)

“Geno’s going to go into camp, he’s the starter,” Macdonald said. “Really excited about that.”

Schneider and Macdonald are also excited about Howell, who was acquired in a trade with Washington this month in what was a swap of draft picks. The Seahawks sent third- and fifth-round picks to the Commanders for fourth- and sixth-round picks.

The move came after the Seahawks learned Drew Lock — the backup the past two years — was signing with the Giants.

Schneider said Seattle then began exploring trade opportunities, which focused quickly on Howell.

Three other teams — two believed to be the Rams and Vikings — were interested, Schneider said.

“Drew just wanted a different opportunity, and that’s when we really got into it,” Schneider said.

Howell started 18 games for Washington the past two years, including all 17 last season when the Commanders went 4-13. Washington is widely expected to use its first draft pick — the second overall — on a QB, which led to the decision to trade Howell (the Commanders also signed veteran free agent Marcus Mariota).

Howell led the NFL in interceptions last season with 21, but Schneider noted “they threw the ball a ton.” Howell led the NFL in attempts with 612.

Schneider likened that to the early days in Green Bay for Brett Favre, who was with the Packers in 1993 when Schneider began his NFL personnel career there.

“I was around Brett Favre at a really young age — the guy was throwing interceptions like crazy, and he ends up winning three MVPs,” he said. “I love the way he plays the game. Sam. And Brett.”

The Seahawks also like that Howell is just 23, younger than some of the top draftable QBs coming out this year.

The Seahawks likely will add a third quarterback.

Schneider said trading for Howell allows the Seahawks to be flexible in how they address that position. The Seahawks pick 16th overall, likely too late for the top four QB prospects. They have no second-round pick, which is where some of the others might be available. The absence of a second-round pick also makes it difficult for the Seahawks to move up in the first round.

“It just frees you up,” Schneider said of the Howell trade. “ … We didn’t have that second-round pick [which was used in the Leonard Williams trade last season], so we were kind of locked a little bit, so your flexibility doesn’t necessarily exist up in that area.”

Of adding a third QB, Macdonald said: “We could. We’ll see. If it’s the right guy, you know? Whether on practice squad or the third guy on the 53, that’s open for business right now. … If there’s a guy that’s sitting, facing us in whatever round, it’s just the responsible thing to do to try to make your team better.

“It’s hard to find young, great quarterbacks in the league. It’s tough. Sometimes you’ve got to take swings at the plate to hit them. Yeah, absolutely if a guy is the right fit I’m sure we’ll go after it.”

Door remains open for Adams
Schneider and Macdonald said safety Jamal Adams, who remains unsigned after being released this month in a salary-cap move, could be re-signed. Neither, though, indicated anything is imminent.

Asked if there had been any consideration to bringing Adams back, Macdonald said: “There has. Again, we love Jamal. And if it’s the right opportunity, I think we would jump at it. But it hasn’t been this long-form conversation about it. But he’s a guy that we respect a ton. And again, if it’s the right opportunity for us and right opportunity for him, I’m sure we’d be interested in doing that.”

Schneider said “sure” when asked if the door remains open for Adams and added that’s true of “those guys, the cap-casualty guys” who remain unsigned. That group includes safety Quandre Diggs and nose tackle Bryan Mone.

Macdonald hinted that if Adams were to return it would be as essentially a linebacker.

“It’s the linebacker skill set and all that kind of manifests itself,” Macdonald said. “If that opportunity comes around, then we’ll revisit then.”

Nwosu, Lucas on track to return
Schneider said outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and right tackle Abraham Lucas are doing well in their recovery from injuries and should be ready for the start of the 2024 season.

Lucas had surgery in January to fix what was termed last season as a “chronic” knee issue that held him to six games in 2023. Nwosu suffered a pectoral injury that limited him to just six games.

“That was a big loss for us when he got hurt, man,” Schneider said of Nwosu.

Schneider said safety Jerrick Reed II — who suffered an ACL injury against the Rams on Nov. 19 — is doing well in his recovery but added it’s unclear if he will return for the start of the season.

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“It’s going to be close,” Schneider said. “But he’s working his tail off.”

Macdonald approves of hip-drop ban
Count Macdonald as a proponent of the unanimous vote Monday to ban the swivel hip-drop tackle. That’s the same tackle on which Smith was injured against the Giants last season. It led then-coach Pete Carroll to say he hoped to lead a conversation to have the league consider whether it should be outlawed.

Macdonald is in lockstep with Carroll on that front.

“If you watch these plays, it is a dangerous play, man,” he said. “It’s something that, it’s a maneuver that we got to get out of the game. It’s too dangerous to the guys carrying the ball.

“And I understand, there’s a lot of rules that have been implemented on how we’re playing defense in this league. And I think it goes to how well we coach tackling again. It puts a premium on how our coaching is fundamental throughout for our team. Obviously, definitely not coaching anything close to that.

“But if the guys were doing it the right way consistently, I think they’ll feel confident that they don’t have to resort to that specific movement, and I think it’s better for the game overall.”

Seahawks to adjust to kickoff rule change
The Seahawks were among the 29 teams that voted for a radical change in kickoffs. The new kickoff will look similar to what the XFL experimented with a few years ago and feature the kicker at his 35-yard line but the rest of the kickoff team at the opposing 40.

At least nine members of the return team will line up between the 30-35, and up to two who are deep, between the end zone and the 20.

The intent is to reduce the rate of high-collision injuries and increase the number of returns.

“It’s definitely a significant change,” Macdonald said before the vote was taken. “So, if that’s something that gets voted in, and we’re gonna have to go to work on it and try to be ahead of the league once this thing kicks off.”

That many think two returners will be the norm for how teams line up could make it more vital for teams to have two reliable returners.

Seattle re-signed Dee Eskridge this month. Assuming he stays healthy and makes the team, he projects as the No. 1 kickoff returner following the free-agent loss of DeeJay Dallas to Arizona. Schneider said the Seahawks could sign another free agent or two as returners.

“It’s going to affect things, definitely,” he said after the vote was taken. “And we’re literally discussing that right now with guys that are free agents and with our coaching staff, what’s it going to look like. We don’t know.”

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or [email protected]; Bob Condotta covers the Seahawks for the Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout the year.

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