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Sam Howell to Start for Commanders over Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke in Week 18

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2023

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 04:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Taylor Heinicke #4 of the Washington Commanders in action against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 04, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Washington Commanders will start rookie Sam Howell in Week 18 against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the team announced.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler initially reported Taylor Heinicke was expected to start over Carson Wentz on Sunday.

Howell will take over for Carson Wentz, who finished 16-of-28 for 143 yards and three interceptions in a 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 17.

Fowler reported the Commanders, who have been eliminated from postseason contention, may also give some snaps to 2022 fifth-round draft pick Sam Howell.

Given the relatively low stakes, some will argue Howell starting ahead of Heinicke is the logical choice. It's a golden opportunity to get his feet wet, and Washington could see how he performs in extended game action.

With the team sitting at 7-8-1, head coach Ron Rivera might want to avoid finishing with a losing record. The Commanders can play the role of spoiler as well since the Cowboys can still claim the NFC East and the top seed in the conference with a win and the right results elsewhere.

Relegating a division rival to the wild card on the final day could provide some level of satisfaction.

The writing was probably on the wall for Wentz already given how much he has struggled in 2022. In eight appearances, he has thrown for 1,755 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and his 33.2 QBR is 28th in the league, per ESPN.com.

By cutting Wentz, Washington would save $26.2 million for 2023, so it's hard to see him staying under contract with the team through the offseason.

Spotrac @spotrac

Starting to think Carson Wentz might not earn the $53.4M remaining on his current contract...

And even if the 2017 Pro Bowler remains on the roster, there's a good chance the team will be moving on to a new starting quarterback next year.