NOVEMBER 20: Heinicke will remain the Commanders’ starting quarterback unless he starts to struggle and Washington’s offense begins to regress, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. John Keim of ESPN.com subsequently confirmed the report, and while Wentz is likely to be activated off of IR soon, he will return to the roster as a backup. Wentz has been informed of the decision, per Keim.
This decision stands to impact the compensation that the Colts will receive for the trade that sent Wentz from Indianapolis to the Commanders this offseason. If Wentz does not play at least 70% of the Commanders’ offensive snaps in 2022 — a scenario that is looking increasingly likely — the Colts will receive a 2023 third-round choice from Washington instead of a second-rounder.
NOVEMBER 16: Carson Wentz is just about ready to return to practice, but for the time being, the Commanders will be rolling with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that Heinicke will start this Sunday against the Texans, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post (on Twitter).
Rivera doesn’t seem to be committing to Heinicke as his starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. While Wentz has been cleared to throw, he’s yet to be designated to return to practice. If the Commanders sincerely wanted Wentz under center going forward, they’d surely give him a full week of practice before tossing him back into the fire.
While the Commanders don’t have to make a decision about their QB1 with Wentz technically still on the shelf, some around the NFL believe Washington is preparing to give Heinicke the reigns for the rest of the 2022 season. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes that “many around the league” expect the team to stick with Heinicke as their starting QB, “at least for the short term.” One source told Fowler that the young players on the Commanders “gravitate” towards Heinicke because of his “fiery personality and his no-fear attitude,” and Rivera is cognizant of the locker room support that the quarterback possesses. On the flip side, the organization also values Wentz’s “skill and toughness,” and it doesn’t sound like there would be any mutiny if the staff decides to roll with the veteran.
Heinicke has certainly impressed under center. In his four starts, he’s guided the Commanders to a 3-1 record, including a victory over the previously undefeated Eagles. He’s completed 62 percent of his pass attempts for 840 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions, and he’s added another 60 yards and a score on the ground. This performance comes on the heels of a 2021 campaign that saw him go 7-8 as a starter while tossing 20 touchdowns vs. 15 interceptions.
Wentz was acquired by Washington this past offseason and started each of the first six games before suffering a hand injury that landed him on IR. Washington was 2-4 in Wentz’s six appearances, with the 29-year-old completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,489 yards, 10 touchdowns, and six interceptions.