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Should the Commanders Move on From Taylor Heinicke?

NFL: Washington Football Team at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 season was a disappointment for Ron Rivera and the Washington Football Team. After a 7-9 record and NFC East championship in 2020, this team had hoped to take the next steps towards respectability. Instead, injuries, poor play on both sides of the football, and some questionable roster decisions attributed to a 10-loss season and top 15 draft pick.

2022 ushers in a new era with a complete rebranding…

The Ryan Fitzpatrick era in DC ended before it could even begin. The savvy veteran injured his hip in the opening game, and wouldn’t take another snap for Washington.

2021 playoff legend Taylor Heinicke was the only ““available” option on the roster to step in for the injured Fitzpatrick at the time. He ended up started 15 games last season, completing 65 percent of his passes for 3,419 yards and 20 touchdowns. However he threw 15 interceptions, was sacked 38 times behind what was a solid pass protecting offensive line, led the league in turnover-worthy plays, and finished with the third-worst independent quarterback rating in the league.

Rivera and company set out to improve the quarterback position this offseason, and that search landed the staff veteran Carson Wentz, who they acquired via trade with the Indianapolis Colts. The Commanders then tripled-down in April’s NFL draft, selecting Sam Howell in the fifth round and signing Cole Kelley as an undrafted free agent.

In Howell, Washington is getting an accomplished collegiate passer with 37 career games played and 92 passing touchdowns. Howell has a thick build, big arm and is dangerous as a runner. In 2020, his deep-ball accuracy was some of the best in the entire country, and many draft pundits had him ranked as the top collegiate prospect heading into the 2021 season. That season turned out to be a tough one for Sam, as he lost his top three offensive playmakers and had a young, inexperienced offensive line which gave up the most pressures in the FBS. Still, Howell managed to throw for 24 touchdowns and rush for an additional 11. Heading into preseason activities, he is expected to compete with Heinicke to back up Wentz.

After the draft had concluded, Washington was able to sign Cole Kelley as an undrafted free agent. As a senior at Southeastern Louisiana, the 6’7” 260 lb gun-slinger completed nearly 74 percent of his passes for 5,124 yards and 44 touchdowns versus just 10 interceptions. He added 491 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns en route to the FCS Walter Peyton award given to the best player in the country in college football’s lower division one tier.

Kelkey is raw but has a huge arm, great athleticism and possesses tremendous upside as a developmental quarterback.

Taylor Heinicke is under contract through the 2022 season. Although he’s become a fan favorite, his upside is extremely limited, and his lack of arm strength severely limits this offense.

Washington will likely carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Heinicke possesses value as an NFL backup, but if Kelley shows well in the offseason program, should the Commanders risk subjecting him to waivers in an attempt to get him to the practice squad? Or, would it be better to let Howell become QB2, and keep Kelley on the roster as that developmental player, while allowing Taylor the opportunity to latch on with another team as a reserve?

Moving on from Heinicke could save Washington just over three million in 2022 - and that’s three million that could go towards an extension to McLaurin or Payne.

We’ve all seen the ceiling of Taylor, and it’s not that great. With a fresh start to a new era, would the Commanders be better off moving in a completely different direction at quarterback with younger players with greater upside backing up Carson Wentz?


Who should be the odd-man out of the Commanders quarterback room?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Taylor Heinicke
    (1551 votes)
  • 54%
    Cole Kelley
    (1930 votes)
  • 1%
    Sam Howell
    (69 votes)
3550 votes total Vote Now