The Washington Commanders have a new leader on offense with the arrival of coordinator Eric Bieniemy. With Bieniemy bringing his Super Bowl-winning résumé to Washington, he will look to develop Commanders second-year quarterback Sam Howell, who remains in line to be the team's starting quarterback in 2023.
Last month, as Washington began its search for a new offensive coordinator, CBS Sports Senior NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reported that the Commanders were telling potential candidates that Howell is expected to be QB1 when the club begins its offseason workouts to prepare for the 2023 campaign. With Bieniemy now officially hired, that plan remains unchanged, according to a recent report from Pro Football Talk.
Naturally, there are going to be some questions as to the security of some players on the roster when new management, even at the coordinator level, comes into the fold as they may have their own vision for how they want to run things. However, that doesn't seem to be the case here with Bieniemy and the Commanders, which means Howell continues to have the inside track to start next season. That also appears to take Washington out of the running to take a quarterback with the No. 16 overall pick at the NFL draft later this spring, and possibly even the quarterback trade market outside of maybe a veteran backup.
Howell was taken in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of North Carolina. He was the sixth quarterback taken at the draft after Kenny Pickett (Steelers), Desmond Ridder (Falcons), Malik Willis (Titans), Matt Corral (Panthers), and Bailey Zappe (Patriots). He started Washington's Week 18 game against Dallas and helped the Commanders to a 26-6 victory where he completed 11 of his 19 throws for 169 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also rushed for 35 yards and another score.
What will be interesting to monitor this offseason as it relates to the quarterback position in Washington is the statuses of both Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. The Commanders can easily cut Wentz and clear nearly $26.2 million off the salary cap as he no longer holds a dead cap charge in his contract. Meanwhile, Heinicke is set to enter unrestricted free agency. That leaves Howell and Jake Fromm (reserve/future contract) as the only two quarterbacks on the roster.
Specifically with Bieniemy, this is a fascinating opportunity for him to build an ironclad résumé as he continues to hunt for a head coaching job somewhere in the NFL. If he can have the Commanders offense playing at a high level with a former fifth-round pick like Howell, there should be little doubt about his candidacy going forward.