By Cara Bahniuk
Taylor Heinicke signed a two-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons on the second day of NFL free agency, Tuesday, officially ending the fan favorite’s time in DC. Heinicke’s contract will see him earn $20 million for his hometown team.
Tabbed as a backup, Heinicke ended up starting 24 games for the Washington Commanders over the past three seasons, stepping in to replace Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Carson Wentz either due to injury or poor play.
The Commanders opted not to bring Taylor back despite being a cult hero amongst fans.
Heinicke shared his love for Washington with a video montage Instagram post today.
“Wanted to take a moment and say THANK YOU to Washington!” Heinicke wrote. “The love and support has been unmatched the last couple years. The memories I’ll cherish forever. You gave me a second chance and it’s forever changed my life. Thank you all! ❤️”
Heinicke quickly won over the hearts of Capitals fans this season by showing his support, in both subtle and ridiculous ways, multiple times.
First, Heinicke rocked a reverse retro jersey and the team’s giveaway hat while taking photos with Commanders service-dog-in-training Mando and doing a national interview with Colin Cowherd.
.@Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke sees some of himself in Drew Brees…
"When I got to college, I started looking at QB's I could emulate. Russell Wilson was one and Drew Brees was the other one… I continue to try and do that." pic.twitter.com/1nX0VBQO72
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) December 15, 2022
Sure, the Capitals may have gifted the Commanders sweaters to promote its latest Reverse Retro release, but dang, look at his face. It’s like he’s found his new favorite blanket and never wants to take it off.
Later in December, Heinicke attended a Capitals game in a suite with a bunch of his teammates. While Instagram-storying his way through the game, he was shown on the jumbotron chugging a beer and crushing the can on his head.
MERRY CHUGMAS pic.twitter.com/JAoov7vaCw
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 20, 2022
Heinicke spent his intermissions taking photos with fans over the barrier of his suite, taking time to talk to anyone who came by to say hi. The Capitals won the game on a Dmitry Orlov overtime goal. Heinicke was very excited.
Heinicke’s professional career started being undrafted out of college and being cut by five teams in four years. He became a backup quarterback for St. Louis BattleHawks XFL team, never played due to the COVID-cancelled season, and slept on his sister’s couch.
Heinicke then signed to the practice squad of the Washington Commanders, then the Football Team, in December 2020 and was quickly promoted to the active roster. He played his first game in week 16 of that year, after Haskins was benched, and went on to start 24 games in the following two seasons in Washington. He went 12-11-1 in those games and quickly became a fan favorite due to his underdog mentality, passion for the game, and camaraderie with his teammates.
Many of his now-former teammates, including Chase Young, Kam Curl, and Jeremy Reaves, took to Instagram comments to show love today.
Chase Young likes Heinicke. pic.twitter.com/h4K0MN3TMC
— Washington Today (@wshingtontoday) December 29, 2020
Heinicke also had all of his teammates’ love after beating the undefeated Eagles during the 2022-23 season. On the plane ride home, he wore his teammates chains, ala Kirk Cousins, and causally drank two Busch Lights.
When Heinicke first joined the Commanders in 2020, he only had two pairs of shoes in his closet: a pair of vans and a set of converse. After his teammates told him he needed to up his shoe game, he started buying a pair of Jordans in the color scheme of every team he defeated. Today, Taylor posted a photo wearing a pair of Jordan’s in Falcons colors.
Best of luck, Taylor, and we will all miss you around this town!
Headline photo: @taylorheinicke/Instagram
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