Participating in the veteran quarterback market several times since Kirk Cousins‘ franchise tags led to a departure, Washington has since been linked to cooling off those pursuits. An unexpected Sam Howell promotion, after a one-start season, is being considered.
But the team will not rule out the possibility it again acquires a veteran. After discussing a few vets last year, the team will at least have Howell in the mix for its 2023 starting job. Third-year GM Martin Mayhew, however, said the team will look into an experienced option again.
“You pretty much every season have to look at the entire landscape of what’s available,” Mayhew said, via Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that last year. We will do the same things this year. We’re not going to rule out acquiring a vet. We’ll go through the entire landscape of who’s available. We’ll evaluate them, and we’ll get to a consensus.”
Last year’s search included pursuits of Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, with a three-first-rounder offer being sent to the Seahawks for the latter. Wilson’s no-trade clause intervened, as it did for other non-Broncos teams as well. But the Commanders’ 2022 search also included calls to the Raiders on their then-starter. The Raiders fielded multiple inquiries from the Commanders about Derek Carr last year, according to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports.
The Raiders’ Dave Ziegler–Josh McDaniels regime rebuffed the Commanders’ Carr interest, preferring to see if the longtime starter proved a fit in McDaniels’ offense. After Carr did not impress with McDaniels, the Raiders are ready to see what they can get for the 31-year-old passer. They will try to trade Carr and his $40.4M guarantee, which vests Feb. 15, to stockpile assets for the future. The recent Howell buzz aside, it seems logical the Commanders will revisit Carr as an option.
Washington stands to save $26.2M by releasing Carson Wentz, who remains on his Eagles extension from 2019. The team would take on a larger contract with Carr, and the former Pro Bowler has a no-trade clause included in his half-measure extension agreed to in 2022. That complicates any team’s pursuit of Carr, who confirmed he wants another chance to start. It will be interesting to see how many teams are truly in the mix for the solid-but-unspectacular passer, who could follow the likes of Alex Smith and Matthew Stafford in being part of a mid-winter trade.
Washington participated in the first of those trades, obtaining Smith from the Chiefs for Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick. The team then extended Smith, but his gruesome leg injury opened the floodgates at this position in Washington. Should Howell or any non-Wentz arm start for the team to open the 2023 season, it will mark the team’s seventh season-opening QB in seven years. Taylor Heinicke is not among this contingent, having replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick minutes into the latter’s Washington debut/one-off last season, and he will be an unrestricted free agent come March.
Mayhew called Howell’s Week 18 outing against the Cowboys promising but cautioned that was “a very small sample” to judge and “there’s going to be a lot of evaluation process for him.” Will that performance stop the team from chasing a higher-profile option?
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