Former Vikings QB Heads to Falcons
While the Minnesota Vikings re-signed Garrett Bradbury and Nick Mullens on Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons were busy to start free agency, mainly adding safety Jessie Bates III from the Cincinnati Bengals.
And that wasn’t all for Atlanta. General manager Terry Fontenot has a mysterious quarterback situation at the moment, appearing to lean toward 2022 rookie Desmond Ridder as QB1. But if Ridder doesn’t work out, former Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke will be waiting in reserve.
Former Vikings QB Heads to Falcons
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday, “The Falcons are signing former Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke, per me and Mike Garafolo. With plenty of starting experience, Atlanta adds a veteran to their QB room.”
Heinicke netted a two-year deal worth up to $20 million, a figure at the top end of QB2 pay. He’ll serve as a contingency plan for Ridder — or the next guy if Atlanta uses the eighth overall pick in April’s draft on a quarterback.
The Commanders oddly benched Heinicke late in the 2022 season, pivoting to Carson Wentz, the QB1 at the start of the year, who again flopped with the season on the line for a second consecutive year. Heinicke’s relegation to the bench was yet another chapter in his topsy-turvy saga.
The Vikings discovered Heinicke in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. He later won the QB3 job behind Teddy Bridgewater and Shaun Hill, staying with the Vikings until September 2017. After his Vikings adventure, Heinicke landed with the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, and Commanders. He also had a pit stop in the XFL in 2020 with the St. Louis BattleHawks.
Known for his grit and likeability, Heinicke won over Commanders fans with the team’s winning record on his watch. But in the grand scheme of QB performance, Heinicke’s individual production is somewhat dreadful, ranking near the bottom of the NFL per quarterback efficiency. The numbers suggest Heinicke was about as efficient as Davis Mills and Matt Ryan in 2022 — less than ideal comparisons.
Heinicke ultimately accounted for 13 touchdowns, 7 fumbles, and 6 picks in 2022.
If Heinicke eventually starts — a decent probability with Ridder as his competition — he can attempt to unlock tight end Kyle Pitts, a darling among avid football fans. The Falcons curiously didn’t maximize Pitts’ potential in Year 2 and traded for another tight end, Jonnu Smith, this week. Somewhere within somebody’s offense, a productive Pitts is more than capable. A coach or general manager just needs to realize it. Perhaps a Heinicke-led Falcons could restart Pitts’ development.
Former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum joined a new team this week, too, the Houston Texans. Like Heinicke, he’ll likely be asked to mentor a young quarterback.
Atlanta currently employs four former Vikings — Kyle Hinton (OG), Dylan Mabin (CB), Cordarrelle Patterson(RB), and Heinicke.
Vikings Get Steal of a Deal in Free Agency
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.
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