Taylor Heinicke joins the Falcons as Desmond Ridder’s backup

The Atlanta Falcons are planning to sign quarterback Taylor Heinik to a two-year contract worth up to $20 million, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, adding the former Washington Chiefs fan favorite to a square that will move again in 2023.

Heinicke is expected to enter training camp as the backup to Desmond Ridder, who started the final four games of his rookie season in 2022, a source told ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.

Marcus Mariota, Atlanta’s first 13-game starter, was released last month. Mariota signed with Atlanta last year, the same day the Falcons traded longtime franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to Indianapolis after the failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson.

The Falcons, who hold the eighth overall pick in next month’s NFL draft, are still in the running to draft a quarterback and have been linked to several veteran signal callers this offseason.

Heinicke, who turns 29 on Wednesday, has started 24 games over the past two seasons with the Commanders, who have gone 12-11-1 with him, compared to 3-8 with others.

Last season, Heinicke replaced the injured Carson Wentz and the Commanders went 5-3-1 with 12 hits to six shutouts in nine starts. He sat out the fourth quarter of a 37-20 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 24. Heinicke did not play again as Wentz started the next game and Sam Howell started the season finale.

Washington signed Heinicke in December 2020 amid a battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. An often-told story is that he slept on his sister’s couch during math class at Old Dominion University, where he played in college. He began the 2021 season as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup, but became the starter in the second quarter of the season when Fitzpatrick injured his hip.

Heinicke started 15 games for Washington in 2021, had 20 tackles and 15 interceptions, and became a fan favorite for his style and penchant for late rallies. He threw for 5,745 yards with 34 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in his career.

ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.

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