Since the end of the 2022 season, Sam Howell has been in the driver’s seat to begin the coming campaign as the Commanders’ starting quarterback. The team’s stance in that regard did not change through minicamp, and the same is true with respect to next month’s training camp.
Head coach Ron Rivera said both before and after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy that Howell would sit atop the depth chart heading into the new league year. Free agency did not, as expected, involve a serious pursuit of the top signal-callers available via signings or trades, but a veteran presence was indeed added. Jacoby Brissett was inked to a one-year deal in March, opening the door to a potential offseason competition.
When Rivera addressed the situation before this past week’s mandatory minicamp, he said Brissett had “shown us some things that have really gotten people’s attention,” adding that the team “talks about Jacoby almost as much as we talk about Sam” (h/t Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports). With minicamp having come and gone, Washington has had another chance (albeit under very limited circumstances given the nature of June practices) to evaluate Howell with the first-team offense. The latter preformed well enough to maintain his title of QB1 for the time being.
“He’s much shown us what we want to see,” Rivera said, via ESPN’s John Keim. “He’s young, we know he is young. There was a lot of room for growth, and we know that, but he’s got a good skillset. He’s mobile, he’s got good foot movement, he’s got quick twitch to him, good decision maker. He is still learning to make those decisions, but he’s also got the arm talent and that’s the thing that that excites us.”
Howell, a 2022 fifth-rounder, made just one start in his rookie season. The Commanders’ Carson Wentz experiment did not pay off, leading to his release this offseason. Rather than making another pricey move under center, the keys have tentatively been handed over to Howell, whose career at North Carolina made him one of several less-than-highly-touted member of last year’s quarterback class.
A strong showing in training camp would be enough for Howell to remain in pole position for the Week 1 starting position, though the Brissett deal includes a high proportion of guranteed money along with incentives. The latter has logged 17 starts across his one-year stints in Miami and Cleveland over the past two years, and could provide Bieniemy’s unit with a stable floor if Howell delivers an underwhelming performance in July and August. Such a development will be needed for a change to the depth chart at this point, though.