The Atlanta Falcons are adding another quarterback to the mix, as they kicked off the second day of the NFL's legal tampering period by agreeing to terms with former Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke, per NFL Media. The deal is reportedly for two years, and worth up to $20 million.
The Falcons were in the market for a quarterback, as they released veteran signal-caller Marcus Mariota last month, and have just Desmond Ridder and Logan Woodside on roster at this point. The rookie Ridder went 2-2 as the starter last year, and completed 63.5% of his passes for 708 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Heinicke, an undrafted quarterback out of Old Dominion, quickly became a fan favorite in Washington, as he gave Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a close game in his first start for the Commanders -- which came in the playoffs back in the 2020 season. Heinicke threw for 306 yards, one touchdown, one interception and rushed for another score in the 31-23 loss.
Heinicke then started 15 games in 2021 after free-agent pickup Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with an injury in the first game of the season. He went 7-8 as the starter while completing 65 percent of his passes for a career-high 3,419 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
His performance couldn't keep the Commanders out of the quarterback market, however, as Ron Rivera traded for Carson Wentz last offseason. After the former No. 2 overall pick was injured, however, Heinicke was reinserted into the starting lineup and almost saved Washington's season. He won five of his first six starts -- including handing the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season in Week 10. After going 0-2-1 down the stretch, however, Rivera made the switch back to Wentz. In his first game back, Wentz threw three interceptions in a 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns that eliminated Washington from the playoffs.
Heinicke is a borderline starter in this league that can step in and lead a comeback at a moment's notice. If the Falcons are done adding at the quarterback position, he will be a valuable backup to the young Ridder.