Desmond Ridder

Falcons To Make Depth QB Addition; Desmond Ridder Did Not Request Trade

The top of Atlanta’s quarterback depth chart is set with Kirk Cousins in the fold. His addition has relegated Taylor Heinicke to backup duties as things stand, but the latter may not have the QB2 role by the time the 2024 campaign begins.

Heinicke will see competition for the backup gig brought in, head coach Raheem Morris said (via The Athletic’s Josh Kendall). The Atlanta native joined the team last offseason as a veteran insurance policy for Desmond Ridder. Neither passer performed well enough when on the field to justify being named the 2024 starter, however, fueling the aggressive pursuit of Cousins.

Atlanta currently has just $6.3MM in cap space, most of which will be needed to sign the team’s incoming rookie class. As a result, even a one-year deal with a veteran backup option (such as Ryan Tannehill or Carson Wentz) could prove to be too expensive. Next month’s draft will offer the opportunity to add a developmental passer at a lower cost.

To that end, the Falcons are amongst the teams which have a visit lined up with Michael Penix Jr. The 2023 Heisman runner up may not be in Atlanta’s range, though, provided the team uses the No. 8 pick on a position other than quarterback. Still, it comes as little surprise Heinicke will need to beat out a new arrival for the backup job in training camp. The 31-year-old has one year left on his re-worked contract, and a release would create $1.21MM in cap savings along with a $3.32MM dead cap charge.

Not long after the Cousins deal was in place, Ridder was dealt to the Cardinals. That swap – which yielded receiver Rondale Moore in return – allowed the 2022 third-rounder to receive a fresh start after an underwhelming time as a starter with Atlanta. The trade did not come about based on Ridder’s desire to leave, though.

“Desmond is a great kid,” Morris said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“He did not come to us and demand a trade. He did not come to us and do anything like that… The opportunity presented itself for us to add speed to our [receivers group]. Desmond went out with class.”

Ridder will now turn his attention to backing up Kyler Murray in Arizona. While the Cardinals’ QB depth chart (which also includes Clayton Tune) is now set, that of the Falcons is set to see an addition relatively soon.

Cardinals, Falcons Finalizing Desmond Ridder Trade

That was fast. Falcons talks with teams about a Desmond Ridder trade will produce a deal; the Cardinals are finalizing an agreement to acquire the third-year quarterback, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reports.

Wide receiver Rondale Moore is coming back to Atlanta in the deal, per’s Ian Rapoport. One season remains on Moore’s rookie deal; two years are left on Ridder’s contract. No picks will be moved in this deal.

The Falcons made their Kirk Cousins signing official Wednesday, as the new league year began, and they still have backup Taylor Heinicke under contract on his two-year, $14MM accord. He is due a $5MM nonguaranteed salary. Heinicke would stand to represent some insurance and, if nothing else, an arm capable of leading the team through offseason workouts as Cousins finishes up his Achilles rehab. The Falcons have determined Ridder is no longer a fit.

Moore will join Darnell Mooney as new Falcons complementary wideouts; the ex-Bears 1,000-yard weapon signed a three-year, $39MM deal. A 5-foot-7 target used mostly near the line of scrimmage in Arizona, Moore is a former second-round pick. The slot player may be set to be a regular alongside Mooney and Drake London in Atlanta. Though, the Purdue alum had not maintained a grip on the Cardinals’ slot job. Greg Dortch usurped Moore during the 2023 season, as a new coaching staff changed the Kliff Kingsbury offense in which Moore was drafted to play.

Chosen 49th overall, Moore has shown some intriguing form as a tertiary target in a Cousins-guided offense. Although Moore has only cleared 10 yards per catch in one of his three seasons (2022), he has totaled 1,201 yards in that span. Moore posted back-to-back 400-yard seasons as part of DeAndre Hopkins-fronted receiving crews. New Cardinals OC Drew Petzing gave Moore 26 carries last season as well; he turned them into 178 yards and a touchdown. In coming from the NFC West, Raheem Morris and Falcons OC Zac Robinson have seen plenty of Moore.

Moore’s worst yardage total as a Cardinal (352, in 2023) would have been second among Falcon wideouts last year. Mack Hollins‘ 251 yards led the London wingmen; Hollins has since signed with the Bills. Ridder’s form contributed to that low number, and the Falcons also funneled targets to Kyle Pitts and the since-cut Jonnu Smith. They appear to be shifting to an offense that features more reliable wideouts and one primary receiving tight end. Minnesota and Washington largely operated this way with Cousins, who fed slot receivers K.J. Osborn and Jamison Crowder steady targets. This trade could benefit Moore as a 2025 free agent.

Ridder, 24, ranked 26th in QBR last season, finishing with a 12-12 TD-INT ratio and a 7.3 yards-per-attempt number. After the Cincinnati alum sat behind Marcus Mariota for much of the 2022 season, the Falcons gave him 17 total starts. Passing on a veteran arm last year, the Falcons put considerable faith in Ridder. But Arthur Smith, who ended up on the chopping block, benched him twice. Coming out of last season, word immediately surfaced Atlanta was aiming to upgrade at QB. Enter Cousins and another big contract.

Ridder’s rookie deal calls for $985K and $1.1MM base salaries over the next two seasons. That will pair well with Murray’s $46.1MM-per-year extension. The Cardinals traded Josh Dobbs to the Vikings at last year’s deadline; Dobbs is now a free agent. Arizona has 2023 fifth-rounder Clayton Tune signed for three more seasons.

It will be interesting to see if Ridder will be given the QB2 job or if Tune will be placed on even footing. Given Murray’s 2022 ACL tear and his history of short-term absences, the Arizona backup role may well lead to opportunities next season.

Falcons Expected To Trade Desmond Ridder

With Kirk Cousins coming in as the unquestioned Falcons starting quarterback, the team’s previous option is likely on his way out. After two seasons, the Falcons are preparing to trade Desmond Ridder, WSB’s Zach Klein reports.

No deal is imminent, but’s Adam Schefter adds the Falcons have been discussing Ridder with other teams and a trade is anticipated. Two seasons remain on the former third-round pick’s rookie contract.

Big-ticket QB additions often lead to the predecessor being shipped out. The Vikings let Case Keenum walk when they signed Cousins in 2018, while the Browns dealt Baker Mayfield months after acquiring Deshaun Watson — edging out the Falcons in those sweepstakes — two years ago. The Buccaneers did not install Jameis Winston as Tom Brady‘s backup. The Jets did not trade Zach Wilson last year, and they regretted it. Although Ridder would profile as a player who could slide into a backup role — his primary 2022 slot — the Falcons may have determined there is enough of a market to move him now.

The Raiders and Vikings acquired bridge starters, in Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold, while the Steelers picked up Russell Wilson on the cheap. This would leave the Broncos as a potentially interested party, with only Jarrett Stidham under contract for 2024. But Ridder also would profile as a backup elsewhere.

The Falcons’ Cousins pursuit brought an about-face from the team. In explaining why the team was not interested in Lamar Jackson last year, Arthur Blank said he wanted to build a roster around a rookie contract at quarterback. At that point, Ridder served as that passer. The team anointed the Cincinnati alum early during the 2023 offseason and used him as a starter for much of the season. But Arthur Smith benched Ridder on multiple occasions, moving Taylor Heinicke into action. Heinicke’s two-year, $14MM deal remains on Atlanta’s roster; it would seem the Falcons do not want both of them back.

Ridder ranked 26th in QBR last season, finishing with a 12-12 TD-INT ratio and a 7.3 yards-per-attempt number. The Falcons gave Ridder 17 total starts. Coming out of this season, word immediately surfaced the Falcons were aiming to upgrade at QB. Enter Cousins and another big contract. His rookie deal calls for $985K and $1.1MM base salaries over the next two seasons.

Falcons Intend To Start Taylor Heinicke For Rest Of Season

DECEMBER 20: If the Falcons are to make a late run to the playoffs, Heinicke will be leading the way. Smith said the team will go with the former Washington starter the rest of the way. When Smith benched Ridder the first time, he kept the door open for a return. While the Falcons reinstalled Ridder as their starter, it appears the second-year passer — anointed as the starter back in March — is not in the team’s plans to close out this season. With Smith uncertain to be retained for 2024, plenty rides on Heinicke.

DECEMBER 19: In the aftermath of the Falcons’ loss on Sunday, head coach Arthur Smith said a quarterback change was being contemplated. After going back to Desmond RidderAtlanta is now set to hand the reins to Taylor Heinicke once again.

The latter will get the start in Week 16, Josh Kendall and Jeff Schultz of The Athletic report (subscription required). That comes as no surprise after Smith’s remarks left the door open to Heinicke being reinstalled as the No. 1 for at least the time being. Ridder was given the starting role back after the Falcons’ bye week, and the team intended for that decision to apply through the remainder of the campaign.

However, the 2022 third-rounder has not improved as hoped during his second stint as a starter. Ridder has committed 16 turnovers this season, including six in the red zone. As a result, Atlanta sits at 6-8 on the year and is in danger of missing out on the postseason. A late switch back to Heinicke could provide more stability under center down the stretch.

After putting Ridder atop the depth chart for the final four games of his rookie season, the Falcons gave him a vote of confidence. The decision to sign Heinicke to a two-year, $14MM deal in the offseason was aimed at providing experienced depth, although the starter’s job was certainly not set in stone entering the season. With Ridder struggling to make the Year 2 jump, Heinicke earned a pair of starts midway through the season after replacing Ridder at halftime the game before.

In his time at the helm (which was cut short by a hamstring injury), Heinicke posted a passer rating of 84.2, the second-lowest of his career. The former Commanders starter committed only one turnover in that span, however, so he could provide a higher floor than Ridder against the Colts this week. Fighting for both the top spot in the NFC South as well as a wild-card spot, the Falcons will need a rebound from last week’s poor offensive showing to keep their postseason chances alive.

The team faces the possibility of missing the playoffs for a third straight season under head coach Arthur Smith. In spite of that, the latest reporting on the matter points to Atlanta retaining him for next season. As The Athletic report notes, however, Smith’s job security may become dependent on a plan to acquire a new starter under center despite both Ridder and Heinicke being on the books beyond 2023. Neither passer has done enough to lay claim to a permanent No. 1 role to date, but Heinicke will get another opportunity to do so this Sunday.

Falcons Undecided On Week 16 Starting QB

The Falcons’ decision to give the starting role back to Desmond Ridder after their bye week was intended to put the team’s quarterback questions to rest for the rest of the season. In the wake of yesterday’s loss, however, that may not be the case.

Ridder was benched in place of Taylor Heinicke after struggling to make the Year 2 jump many young passers experience. The former has received the confidence of Atlanta’s staff, however, and he was reinstalled as the No. 1 for Week 12 and beyond. Ridder underwhelmed in Sunday’s loss to the Panthers, and a late red zone interception set up Carolina’s game-winning field goal.

That continued a concerning trend in the turnover department for Ridder, who has thrown at least one interception in nine games this season and each of his last four. The 2022 third-rounder has also fumbled 11 times, adding to the argument Atlanta should seek out a replacement this offseason. For the time being, another evaluation will take place at the position, head coach Arthur Smith said on Monday.

Smith answered no when asked if third-stringer Logan Woodside was under consideration to get the start in Week 16, and he confirmed the same is true of an outside addition. Just like earlier in the year, therefore, the current decision will come down to Ridder or Heinicke as Atlanta looks to remain in contention for an NFC playoff berth. The latter has put up underwhelming numbers when on the field in his debut Falcons season (55.4% completion percentage, 498 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception).

A hamstring injury ended Heinicke’s run as starter, but he is healthy now. The former Commanders starter has more experience than Ridder, and the team could opt to give him the starter’s role down the stretch in a bid to reduce turnovers while competing for the NFC South title. The Falcons sit at 6-8, one game behind both the Buccaneers and Saints. They are also in the mix for a wild-card spot, but improvement on offense will likely be needed to reach the postseason.

Heinicke is on the books through 2024 after he signed an incentive-laden deal this past offseason. Ridder’s rookie contract, meanwhile, runs one year longer. With commitments to both passers beyond this season, Atlanta’s plans for the immediate future will be worth watching closely.

Falcons QB Desmond Ridder To Start In Week 12

When the Falcons return from their Week 11 bye to take on the Saints next Sunday, Desmond Ridder will be under center. Ian Rapoport of reported this morning that Atlanta is turning back to Ridder with the expectation that he will remain the starter for the rest of the season.

Ridder, who started the Falcons’ first eight games of the year, exited the team’s Week 8 loss to the Titans to be evaluated for a concussion. While he quickly cleared the concussion protocol, head coach Arthur Smith said afterwards that he “didn’t think Des was right” and therefore allowed QB2 Taylor Heinicke to finish the game. Smith hoped to convey that Ridder was not kept on the sidelines for performance reasons, though Heinicke was named the Week 9 starter shortly thereafter.

At the time, we heard that the Falcons had not lost faith in Ridder, whom they selected in the third round of the 2022 draft, and were merely looking for a spark. It seems that the plan was always to reassess the situation during the bye week, and that reassessment has led Atlanta back to its second-year passer.

Heinicke suffered a hamstring injury during the club’s loss to the Cardinals last week, which forced Ridder back into the lineup. Rapoport makes it clear, however, that Heinicke’s injury was a low-grade one, so the decision to tap Ridder as the starter moving forward was not made for health reasons.

Although the Falcons are 4-6, they are just one game out of first place in the weak NFC South. And since Smith is in his third year at the helm and has missed the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, his job could be in jeopardy if his club fails to qualify for the postseason in 2023. Even if his seat is not as hot as some recent reports have indicated, he obviously will need to start winning soon to remain in Atlanta for the long haul. The fact that he is handing the keys to Ridder for a Week 12 battle with the division-leading Saints and for the home stretch of the season is something of a testament to his belief in the Cincinnati product.

“Sometimes you need a fresh perspective,” Smith said of Ridder this past week. “That’s what I think helped him. The reset, the refocus and working on things that I thought could help him, he’s done that.”

Ridder has flashed at times in 2023, but he followed up one of his strongest perfomances of the season in a Week 5 win over the Texans with a three-interception showing against the Commanders in Week 6, and he lost three redzone fumbles in the Falcons’ Week 7 win over the Buccaneers. He did play well when pressed into relief duty last week, completing four of six passes for 39 yards and piloting the offense to a touchdown that gave the Falcons a late lead.

For the season, Ridder has completed 65.4% of his passes for six touchdowns against six interceptions (which amounts to a subpar 84.1 quarterback rating, slightly below the mark he posted as a rookie). He has added 32 carries for 150 yards and four rushing scores.

NFL Injury Roundup: Saints, Watson, Heinicke, Thibodeaux

The Saints played much of the second half of their loss to the Vikings today without quarterback Derek Carr after the veteran passer took a nasty-looking hit from Danielle Hunter. It was announced that he was out for the remainder of the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder and that he was being evaluated for a concussion, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Further reports, provided by Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, claimed that while the initial belief is that Carr avoided a major shoulder injury, he will undergo more tests in order to determine the severity. Head coach Dennis Allen told the media that Carr was only held out of the game because of a concussion, per ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, and refused to comment any further on the situation.

In Carr’s absence, former starter Jameis Winston performed admirably. He only completed just over half of his pass attempts for 122 yards and threw two interceptions, but he also threw the team’s two touchdowns in order to bring the Saints within spitting distance of the Vikings. Despite Winston’s seemingly superior effectiveness, Allen assured the media that, when Carr is healthy, there is no quarterback competition.

Lastly, veteran cornerback Marshon Lattimore left the game, as well, with what is believed to be an ankle sprain, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow in order to determine the severity of his ankle injury.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL:

  • Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was forced to leave the field at times today during the Browns come-from-behind victory over the division-rival Ravens. He suffered an ankle injury late in the first half of the contest and, though he remained in the game for stretches at a time, he was noticeably limping at times. After the game, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that Watson was in a walking boot. Watson claimed that while “he doesn’t feel great now…(he’ll) be fine” and should be ready to go next weekend.
  • Yet another quarterback was forced to leave their game today due to injury when the Falcons‘ new starting passer, Taylor Heinicke, was forced to leave early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. This required Atlanta to return to former starter Desmond Ridder for the remainder of the contest. Ridder was fairly effective, leading the Falcons on a touchdown drive before failing to convert the two-point attempt that would’ve given the team a three-point lead. The team would go on to lose by those two points after Arizona kicked a game-winning field goal. This likely doesn’t change the team’s quarterback situation, if Heinicke is healthy enough to play, but hamstring injuries can be lingering and might open up more opportunities for Ridder.
  • In a blowout loss to Dallas this afternoon, Giants outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux was knocked out of the game with a concussion, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater. Thibodeaux’s absence opened up some playing opportunities for Boogie Basham, who saw an increased role due to injuries last week, as well.

Taylor Heinicke To Remain Falcons’ Starter In Week 10; Team Will Evaluate QB Depth Chart During Bye

The Falcons made a switch at the quarterback spot ahead of their Week 9 game, inserting Taylor Heinicke into the starting lineup. The veteran will remain atop the depth chart for at least one more game, and a more permanent course will be charted during the team’s bye week.

Head coach Arthur Smith confirmed, via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, that Heinicke’s performance against the Vikings was enough to earn him another start. The latter took over for Desmond Ridder during the second half of the previous game, a move which Smith initially indicated was not performance-related. However, Heinicke was tapped as the Week 9 starter in an illustration of Ridder’s Year 2 struggles.

Ridder drew praise during his four-game run at the end of last season, and he entered the 2023 campaign as the undisputed No. 1 option. The former third-rounder has not progressed as expected, though, posting a passer rating of 84 and a 6:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Heinicke had an encouraging showing in the second half against the Titans in Week 9, though his follow-up against the Vikings (21-of-38 passing, one touchdown, one interception) left plenty to be desired as well.

Smith made it clear that during Atlanta’s bye week evaluations, one passer will be chosen as the starter moving forward (as opposed to a rotation at the QB spot or an ongoing weekly decision on whom to place atop the depth chart). Electing to go back to Ridder would mark another sign of confidence in the 24-year-old, who has two more years remaining on his rookie contract. Carrying on with Heinicke, signed to a two-year, $14MM deal in March, would on the other hand deal a blow to Ridder’s chances of earning another chance for the starter’s gig in Atlanta.

“That’s kind of where we’re at and everything that’s going on,” Smith said. “That bye will be a good time to assess, and you certainly don’t plan on it being so week-to-week after that. But we need to do everything we can to go get this win out in Arizona. That’s going to be our ultimate focus this week.”

The 4-5 Falcons sit in second in the NFC South despite ranking 25th in the league in points per game (18.4). Their passing attack has plenty of room for improvement with an average of 241 yards per contest through the air, and an uptick in production would help Atlanta’s postseason chances while also, potentially, quieting the criticism Smith has increasingly received this season. It will be interesting to see how Heinicke performs against a Cardinals team which will have Kyler Murray in uniform and how the Falcons choose to proceed after their bye week.

Falcons To Start Taylor Heinicke In Week 9

QB shuffling will not be confined to the AFC West on Wednesday. The Falcons are also shaking up their depth chart, with Arthur Smith indicating Taylor Heinicke will start over Desmond Ridder in Week 9.

The Falcons moved Heinicke into the lineup to start the second half. While Smith said that decision was not performance-related, the free agency addition will still receive the call against the Vikings on Sunday. Rather than Ridder-Kirk Cousins, that matchup will feature Heinicke and fifth-round Minnesota rookie Jaren Hall. Once again, Smith attempted to protect Ridder by emphasizing this switch was “just for this week,” via’s Albert Breer, pointing to the team revisiting this issue soon after. Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required) added that the Falcons still have a “strong belief” in Ridder and that they are simply hoping for a spark with the switch to Heinicke.

Throughout the offseason, the Falcons placed their bet on Ridder. They did not pursue Lamar Jackson during his franchise-tagged period, despite the team being on the cusp of trading for Deshaun Watson in 2022. Arthur Blank cited an interest in saving money via a rookie-QB contract, and Ridder’s four-game starter sample last season became enough for the Falcons, who proclaimed the 2022 third-rounder the starter back in March. Ridder replaced Marcus Mariota in Week 15 of last season but will return to the bench.

Ridder has submitted uneven work as Atlanta’s starter, as he did during his smaller rookie-year sample. The Cincinnati product was in place during a 4-3 start but has a 6-to-6 TD-INT ratio and is averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. QBR slots Ridder 25th. Unlike the Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo benching, this might not be the end of the line for Ridder, who is contracted through 2025. But Heinicke will be asked to take over — as he was in both 2021 and ’22 in Washington. After Howell threw for 71 yards and lost a fumble in the first half, Heinicke posted 175 yards and a touchdown pass.

Being called upon to match up with Tom Brady in the 2020 wild-card round, Heinicke surprisingly held his own in that matchup. Washington had signed the former UDFA late in the season. The team then needed Heinicke again in 2021, when Ryan Fitzpatrick went down 16 plays into his Washington stint. Heinicke started 15 games that season and became needed once again after a Carson Wentz hand injury sidelined the Commanders’ handpicked 2022 starter. Ron Rivera stuck with Heinicke for an extended stretch, despite Wentz returning to full strength, and the team rallied back into the wild-card race after a 1-4 start. But Rivera demoted Heinicke once again near the end of last season — first for Wentz and then for Sam Howell. After Howell impressed the team during a Week 18 one-off, Washington cut Wentz and let Heinicke walk in free agency.

An Old Dominion alum, Heinicke ranked 23rd in QBR two years ago, when he threw 20 TD passes and 15 INTs while averaging 6.9 yards per attempt. While Heinicke’s completion percentage dropped (to 62.2%), he finished with a 12-6 TD-INT ratio last season and led the Commanders to a 5-3-1 record as a starter. The Falcons gave Heinicke a two-year, $14MM deal in March. Although Jacoby Brissett received more per year, this marked the most money in total a backup QB signed for this offseason. The 30-year-old passer represented insurance, and the Falcons will go to that well early.

QB Notes: Taylor, Cardinals, Bucs, Ridder

Tyrod Taylor left Sunday’s game with a rib injury and needed to be hospitalized. The Giants announced they are keeping their backup-turned-starter in the hospital overnight for observation on his ribcage ailment. Taylor has a history of rib trouble, of course, as just more than three years have passed since the rib injection that ended his brief run as the Chargers’ starter. The pregame shot before Week 2 of the 2020 season resulted in a punctured lung. During Taylor’s one-season stint as the Texans’ starter, he missed a third of the season due to a hamstring malady. The journeyman came back as a backup, with Houston giving Davis Mills a shot to close that season.

Taylor almost certainly will be welcomed back as the Giants’ starter when he is ready, as the team pivoted to nearly run-only blueprint with practice squad elevation Tommy DeVito under center. Daniel Jones is not expected to be back until Week 10, as he continues to battle a neck injury. The latest coming out of that situation points to the well-paid starter dealing with a disk issue and weakness in his nonthrowing shoulder.

Here is the latest from the QB ranks:

  • The Cardinals have joined the Giants in playing a backup this season, and while they have pronounced Kyler Murray fully healthy after his December 2022 ACL tear, the team will once again hold out the Pro Bowler. Jonathan Gannon announced postgame Joshua Dobbs will start in Week 9. Murray remains on Arizona’s reserve/PUP list, having been designated for return on Oct. 18. The Cardinals do not have to activate him until Nov. 8, giving them one more game to keep Murray off the roster. Early reports indicated an early-season return would be in play for Murray, and Michael Bidwill doubled down on that in April. But the organization has proceeded cautiously with the former No. 1 pick, who has also needed to learn a new offense. It will be interesting to see if the sinking Cardinals redeploy Murray as their starter immediately upon activating him.
  • Baker Mayfield did not escape Thursday’s loss in Buffalo unscathed, with’s Jeremy Fowler noting the free agent pickup is dealing with a knee contusion. Mayfield is planning to play through this injury, but it has caused him discomfort. The Buccaneers QB’s MRI did not reveal any structural damage, however.
  • While Kenny Pickett was initially expected to return to Sunday’s Steelers-Jaguars matchup following his rib injury, via’s Brooke Pryor, the Steelers ruled out their starter and kept Mitch Trubisky in the game. Pickett left the game before the half but was warming up to come back; instead, the team shut him down. Benched early during his first Steelers season, Trubisky became needed on multiple occasions due to Pickett’s two-concussion rookie year. It is not yet known how much time (if any) the 2022 first-rounder will miss as a result of his latest injury.
  • Desmond Ridder‘s midgame exit did not stem from performance issues, Arthur Smith said (via’s Ian Rapoport). Ridder was evaluated for a concussion, but while he was cleared of a head injury, Smith said he “didn’t think Des was right” following the exit. The Falcons kept Taylor Heinicke in the game as a result. Heinicke logged one of the most active QB2 seasons in NFL history two years ago, replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1 and keeping the Washington reins the rest of the way. The Falcons gave the multiyear Washington starter a two-year, $14MM deal this offseason. Ridder has delivered an uneven season thus far, but the Falcons passed on chances to acquire a starter-caliber QB in order to keep him in place. With the team proclaiming Ridder the starter in March, it does not appear he is in danger of being pulled.