Former Old Dominion University quarterback Taylor Heinicke was signed to the Washington Football Team practice squad in December but has now found a home with the Burgundy and Gold.
On Feb. 10, Heinicke signed a two-year, $8.75 million deal to remain in Washington after filling in for Alex Smith (inactive) as the starter for Washington’s wild-card playoff game against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s a good feeling,” Heinicke told Senior Vice President of Media & Content Julie Donaldson. “For this contract to come, it’s a big sigh of relief. I’m really excited. This is the place I wanted to be, so everything came together pretty smoothly, and I’m really excited to be back.”
He played well in his first postseason start, throwing for 306 yards, one touchdown, one interception and led Washington in rushing yardage with 46 yards, including a diving touchdown that left him with a separated shoulder; he still finished the game.
“The shoulder is feeling fine,” Heinicke said. “It’s pretty much 100 percent now, so that’s good. I guess talks have been in for a while now. I know there’s been a lot of moving parts with front office hires and things like that. Once they all got settled in, I think that’s when talks started happening. Again, thankfully it ended because it was a bit stressful.”
Though Heinicke struggled to make it back into the league as a starter and played briefly in the XFL in 2020, the gunslinger is an Old Dominion University legend.
He holds ODU records for most career yardage (14,959), single-season yardage (5,076), single-season touchdowns (44), career passing touchdowns (132), single-game touchdowns (seven) and single-game yardage.
In 2012, Heinicke threw for 730 yards against New Hampshire for the single-game yardage record while shattering the Division I record previously held by Arizona State quarterback David Klingler in 1990.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tied the record with Connor Halliday (2014) in 2016 by just four more yards.
The kid can play, said Mahomes who tweeted: “Regardless of the outcome, what a game by Heinicke!” after the 31-23 playoff loss to the Buccaneers on Jan. 9.
However, Washington has received a small sample size of what Heinicke’s capable of, starting in only two NFL games, and he didn’t even throw a pass for the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL.
Heinicke has only passed for 467 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in his career during the regular season.
Still, he played well filling in for Dwayne Haskins against the Carolina Panthers in a 20-13 loss on Dec. 20, 2020. He went 12-of-19 for 137 yards and a touchdown in that game, boasting a 102.3 quarterback rating.
Heinicke has received enormous support from some notable team leaders in what they have seen so far. Washington defensive tackle Daron Payne claimed he was “proud of him for how he came in and competed,” and Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin said he “has nothing but respect for No. 4.”
“That dude plays with no fear, and he’s going to give us playmakers a chance to make plays,” McLaurin said of Heinicke. “He’s gonna do everything you asked for a quarterback to do in this league. To fill in Alex’s shoes, in a big moment in the playoffs, his first start in the playoffs, I have nothing but respect for that guy.”