Falcons To Sign QB Taylor Heinicke

Mar 18: We now have specifics on the deal, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Heinicke’s new contract is, specifically, a two-year, $14MM deal with $6.32MM guaranteed, including a $4MM signing bonus, his 2023 base salary of $1.32MM, and his 2023 roster bonus of $1MM. He’s due a 2024 roster bonus of $1.32MM on the fifth league day of the 2024 season. He’ll also receive a per game active bonus of $40,000 for a potential season total of $680,000. Lastly, the deal has up to $3MM in playoff and playing time incentives each year that could push the contract to that maximum $20MM value.

Mar 14: The Falcons have been public about their intentions of adding depth at the quarterback position, and they are acting on it. Atlanta has agreed to terms with Taylor Heinicke on a deal, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (on Twitter). His colleague Tom Pelissero tweets that it is a two-year contract worth up to $20MM.

This deal represents a homecoming for the 29-year-old. Heinicke is also making a return to the NFC South, after he spent one season with the Panthers in 2018. That campaign was preceded by a single year in Houston, but he his of course best known for his three years with the Commanders. That span included 24 starts, and has earned him a pact carrying significant value for what is expected to be a backup role.

Heinicke found himself atop Washington’s depth chart for the 2021 campaign, but the team supplanted him with Carson Wentz this past offseason. The trade which brought in the latter was their latest attempt to find a long-term solution at the position, but things didn’t go according to plan with Wentz from both a health and performance perspective. Heinicke did still see nine starts last year, posting a 5-3-1 record with a passer rating of 89.6.

The Commanders have made it clear that 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell will enter the 2023 season as their starting quarterback, albeit one who will likely have an experienced passer behind him on the depth chart. Heinicke could have continued in his backup role in the nation’s capital, but now he will head to Atlanta, the location of another interesting quarterback situation. Desmond Ridder, the team’s third-round pick last April, took on the starting role late in the regular season in place of veteran Marcus Mariota, who like Wentz, has since been released.

When speaking about Ridder last month, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and head coach Arthur Smith both praised his performance across his four games of action. Notably, they declined to endorse him as the starter moving forward, adding that competition would be brought in. Signing Heinicke will accomplish that goal, and give the team a consistent veteran option if Ridder fails to take a step forward in his second season.

The Falcons were long named as a potential Lamar Jackson suitor, either through an offer sheet or a tag-and-trade. Not long after it became known that the Ravens were placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on the former MVP, however, Atlanta was reported to be one of several teams which will not be pursuing him. That will leave them with Ridder, and now Heinicke, occupying the top two spots on their QB depth chart.

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