Heinicke wraps up season among uncertain future

Posted at 12:05 AM, Jan 10, 2023

LANDOVER, MD (WTKR)- Taylor Heinicke watched as Sam Howell led the Commanders to an upset victory over the Cowboys at FedEx Field on Sunday, then walked into the home tunnel at the venue for perhaps the final time.

"They gave me an opportunity, they believed in me, made some really great memories here and it's a little bit of an emotional time," the former Monarch said Sunday night.

Heinicke, who will enter free agency this offseason and be free to sign with any team, started nine games this season, taking over for an injured Carson Wentz in Week 7 and leading the Commanders back into playoff contention. The team struggled in his final three starts, prompting Ron Rivera to make the change back to Wentz for Washington's New Year's Day match-up with the Browns. Heinicke went 5-3-1 this year, 12-11-1 as a starter the last two seasons.

Ups and downs happen in every NFL season for every player, but Heinicke became a fan favorite for his gritty play and dedication. He created plenty of memories in the burgundy and gold, but none better than the play that secured his legacy during the 2020 postseason.

"I think the one that comes to mind is just that dive against Tampa," he said. "I think that was the coolest one, the coolest memory I've had here. It was kind of the play that kept me here for the last two years and that was one game and that one game, they believed in me after that."

Washington marked Heinicke's fifth NFL team, but the first place where he got an actual opportunity to see significant time. The former ODU star was added in December of 2020 as a COVID-19 safety quarterback, but found himself starting that playoff game against the Buccaneers.

"I've learned a lot the last two years," he pointed out. "I've never started prior to that, so I've learned a lot as a player, but I think I've gotten to be a better person and I think that's more than anything."

So if given the opportunity, would Heinicke like to return to Washington?

"100 percent," he said. "I've been with Rivera for a long time, been with Scott (Turner) for a long time and I love all these guys in this locker room, so there's no other organization or team that I would rather be with than to fight with these guys, but free agency's a crazy thing so we'll see what happens."

Heinicke set 36 program records during his time at Old Dominion and is the school's leader in single season and career passing yards and touchdowns. He is one of just 20 Division I quarterbacks all-time to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards.