It took less than two games to transform quarterback Taylor Heinicke from a guy whose NFL career appeared over to signing a multi-year contract.
The Washington Football Team announced Wednesday that it signed Heinicke to a two-year deal, which is worth up to $8.75 million, a source confirmed. Heinicke would have been a restricted free agent, but Washington had made it clear it wanted to keep him based on how he finished the season.
Washington still has Alex Smith under contract for two more years, though his future here remains uncertain. Kyle Allen is an exclusive rights free agent whom the coaches like. It also has Steven Montez, an undrafted free agent last season.
Heinicke’s showing put him in the conversation to at least be a primary backup and provide depth, if nothing else.
Heinicke was taking math classes at Old Dominion University, where he played collegiately, when Washington signed him to its practice squad Dec. 8. He was placed on the active roster later that month and relieved an ineffective Dwayne Haskins in a Week 16 loss to Carolina. In two series, he led one touchdown drive and had another scoring toss nullified by a penalty.
With Smith struggling with a bone bruise, Heinicke started Washington’s playoff game against Tampa Bay and was effective. He completed 26-of-44 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He also showed his mobility, scrambling for an 8-yard touchdown run that ended with him diving for the pylon.
Heinicke signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent in 2015, playing for current Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner. He was the lone NFL coach who visited Heinicke before the draft. After two seasons with Minnesota, he spent time on the practice squads of New England and then Houston. He then signed with Carolina, coached by current Washington coach Ron Rivera.
Heinicke played six games with Carolina, starting one. In his lone start he completed 33-of-53 passes for 274 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He suffered an elbow injury that landed him on injured reserve.
The NFL Network first reported the money on Heinicke’s contract.