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A look at every quarterback trade made by John Schneider

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By: Mookie Alexander

Photo by Martin Leitch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Reading between the lines on every quarterback trade John Schneider has made.

The Seattle Seahawks traded for former Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell last Thursday. Seattle has not only seldom drafted quarterbacks, it has seldom traded for quarterbacks under John Schneider.

It remains to be seen what the Seahawks will do in this year’s NFL Draft, but perhaps previous trades can give us a hint as to what the Howell trade means for Seattle’s quarterback approach for 2024. Let’s take a look at the history of Schneider’s trades, along with an honorable mention to free agent acquisition Matt Flynn.

Charlie Whitehurst (2010)

The Seahawks’ quarterback situation at the time of the trade: Matt Hasselbeck was entering the final year of his contract following two injury-riddled, very ineffective seasons. Seneca Wallace was traded to the Cleveland Browns, so Hasselbeck and Mike Teel were the only QBs under contract.

Draft capital given up: Seattle traded its second-round pick and a 2011 third-round pick to the San Diego Chargers for Whitehurst and the Chargers’ 2010 second-rounder (used on Golden Tate).

How John Schneider framed it:

“When you see something like this available,” Schneider said, “you have to take your shot.”

Schneider said the Seahawks ”would consider Charlie part of our draft class,” but he didn’t rule out drafting another quarterback this year. The Seahawks hold two first-round selections, the sixth and 14th.

Bonus quotes:

“In (2005), I saw Charlie throw on a really, really cold nasty day,” Schneider said, noting he also saw Whitehurst in a game a year later. “I was just extremely impressed and had a hard time getting him out of my mind. … I just always had Charlie in the back of my mind.

“There are just certain things you see when you’re at a workout like that, and it’s hard to get that out of your head.”

Quarterback class: Not good.

Sam Bradford was the top choice in 2010, and Tim Tebow was the other first-round pick at No. 25. Jimmy Clausen was the lone second-round pick at No. 48 and was found out to be a bad NFL quarterback in one season. Colt McCoy, destroyer of all things Seahawks, went in the third round. Joe Webb is the only other notable QB because he had to start a playoff game for the Minnesota Vikings.

What the Seahawks eventually did: No quarterback drafted, JP Losman replaced Mike Teel, and Whitehurst’s only starts through two seasons were in place of the injured Hasselbeck and Tarvaris Jackson. Whitehurst did famously captain the Seahawks’ 16-6 win over the St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West, and just as infamously lost to Colt McCoy in the 6-3 dumpster fire against the Cleveland Browns in 2011.

Drew Lock (2022)

The Seahawks’ quarterback situation at the time of the trade: Russell Wilson was traded, Geno Smith had not yet been re-signed, but they did have Jacob Eason!

Draft capital given up: Russell Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick for Lock, two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and the entire city of Denver.

How John Schneider framed it:

“Drew Lock, we really liked him coming out (of college),” Schneider said. “He can move in the pocket, has a hose (of an arm). We’re really excited to get him into our culture, into our building.

“We’ll continue to explore our options, but we have a ton of faith in Drew, we’re excited about it. We’re excited about a change of scenery for him. I know a couple of my buddies who were trying to acquire him all last spring into the fall. He’s a guy that, in my opinion, the media has beat down a little bit. We’re excited to get him into our culture with our coaching staff and we’ll continue to look for guys to compete with him. Geno (Smith) did a nice job for us, there’s a number of guys who are still available, and we’ll continue to work through that.”

Bonus quotes:

“We’re so hard on all these kids,” Schneider said, giving the quarterbacks the benefit of the doubt because of their unique circumstances the past few years: COVID-19, videoconference learning and being socially distanced from their teammates. “They haven’t been in full flow. Now we’re getting back to (normal).

“I’ve seen over the years people just scrutinize the quarterbacks so hard in college football. It’s like ‘Give these kids a break,’” Schneider continued. “They’re 20, 21 years old learning three different languages. That’s what I love about Drew. The guy’s got a ton of arm talent, can move in the pocket, make all the throws.”

Quarterback class: Pathetic.

Seriously, this was considered a weak QB class at the time and if not for Brock Purdy, this might be in the running for absolute worst we’ve ever seen. Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell (more on him later!), and Desmond Ridder have already been traded. Malik Willis is so bad that the Titans plucked Josh Dobbs from the practice squad to try and save their season, then immediately took Will Levis the following year. Matt Corral isn’t even on an NFL roster and he was a third-round pick.

Remember when Pete Carroll said Lock would’ve been the first QB taken in the 2022 draft? I don’t think he was blowing smoke.

What the Seahawks eventually did: They rolled with Geno, Lock, and Jacob Eason until Eason was cut in preseason.

Sam Howell (2024)

The Seahawks’ quarterback situation at the time of the trade: Drew Lock left in free agency, leaving Geno Smith as the only QB under contract.

Draft capital given up: A 2024 third- and fifth-round pick in exchange for Howell, as well as 2024 fourth- and sixth-round picks.

How John Schneider framed it:

“The day we played here, that hit home how tough he was, how strong he was,” Schneider said. “Keeping his eyes downfield, finding the open receiver and, yeah, shoot, almost winning the game there at the end. … We got great reviews on him and we loved him coming out of college. We’re happy to get him in the mix.”


“He’s 23 years old and has 18 starts in the league already, and he’s the same age as like (Jayden) Daniels from LSU and (South Carolina QB Spencer) Rattler and (UW Huskies QB Michael) Penix, and he’s a year younger than (Oregon QB) Bo Nix. We were just really excited to be able to acquire him. We know he’s a serious dude and into it, he works his tail off.”

Bonus quote:

“Geno is the guy and Sam will be backing him up,” Schneider said. “… (Howell) is a competitive guy … I’m sure there’s competition, but as of right now it’s not like we’re signing him to go and compete with Geno to be the starter.”

Quarterback class: Strong, in theory.

This is, theoretically, a deep quarterback class. It’s expected that Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, and J.J. McCarthy will all be off the board within the top-half of the first round. Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr could also be first-round picks and barring some big twist, would be locks to be off the board by the end of Day 2. Seattle only has two picks total from Rounds 1-3. Spencer Rattler, Jordan Travis, and Joe Milton are among the non-Round 1 options at quarterback.

What the Seahawks eventually did: TBA.

Honorable mention: Matt Flynn (2012)

The Seahawks’ quarterback situation at the time of the trade: Whitehurst returned to the Chargers as a free agent, while Tarvaris Jackson was entering the final year of his contract with $4 million in non-guaranteed base salary.

Free agency cost: Three years, $20.5 million ($9 million guaranteed).

How John Schneider framed it:

Schneider suggested that Flynn’s addition won’t preclude the team from drafting another quarterback. Schneider: “If the right person comes to you at the right spot, and it’s an appropriate thing to do, we’ll do it. This is something where we’re going to be cautious. We’re not going to step out of bounds on it.”

Bonus quote (from Pete Carroll):

“We are really excited to bring Matt in here to compete with Tarvaris,” Carroll said.

Quarterback class: Very good.

Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Ryan Tannehill all were taken in the top-10. Mike Holmgren lost his nerve when he was in the Browns front office and panic-drafted 28-year-old Brandon Weeden, but Brock Osweiler, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, and Kirk Cousins were all mid-round options.

What the Seahawks eventually did: Schneider wasn’t bluffing. He drafted Wilson, who beat out Flynn and Jackson for the starting job. T-Jack was traded to the Buffalo Bills before the start of the regular season.

What are the takeaways?

If you’ve caught the trend, “I liked him in college” or some variation of that line was used by Schneider for all of these trades, so I take almost nothing from those quotes. He didn’t quite say it for Whitehurst, which is understandable because he literally wasn’t a GM when Whitehurst was drafted.

The previous occasions in which Schneider traded for a quarterback coincided with weak classes. They were positioned to take, say, Desmond Ridder in the draft and didn’t do it. If they’d kept the No. 40 pick in 2010, Clausen would’ve been there, but the Seahawks opted for Whitehurst. I suppose they could’ve taken Colt McCoy over Golden Tate at No. 60.

This year is a little bit different. Barring a trade up, the Seahawks probably aren’t getting any of the top four or five quarterbacks in this year’s class. After, say, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr, no other quarterback is projected to be a starter.

Another angle to explore is experience. Whitehurst had 0 NFL pass attempts to his name in four years, whereas Lock and Howell had at least a season’s worth of starting experience on their respective teams. In the cases of Whitehurst and Lock, they had opportunities to win the Seahawks starting job right away and were unable to do so—Whitehurst went 0-for-2 when you add T-Jack in 2011. Based on Schneider’s comments, Howell is explicitly seen as a backup to Geno Smith, which, regardless of how you feel about Geno, is justified. Look at how Howell ended his season after the 300-yard, 3-touchdown game against the Seahawks and you’ll realize why this is not a debate worth having.

The presence of Howell has me leaning heavily toward the Seahawks not taking a quarterback with their top pick. I interpret this acquisition as an admission that getting one of the top prospects is unlikely, and Howell with two years left on his rookie deal is the next closest thing to drafting a QB. However, similarly to when they signed Flynn, I don’t rule out the Seahawks taking a QB one of their fourth-round picks or taking a flyer on a sixth- or seventh-round project.

We’re admittedly working on a small sample size, of course. Maybe we’re in for a surprise at the end of April.

Originally posted on Field Gulls