In five weeks, the Los Angeles Rams will have their early chance to address one integral need for 2023: Figuring out who joins Matthew Stafford in the quarterback room once the free agency period and 2023 calendar NFL year begins.
There are fans on board with Baker Mayfield returning. However, he’s an unrestricted free agent and may command attention for teams already needing QB help. And while Mayfield’s name made the list of seven free agent QBs the Rams could sign via Rams Wire of USA Today on Tuesday, February 7, there’s one QB who recently started in a playoff game who could fit the Rams if QB becomes a free agent need: Taylor Heinicke of the Washington Commanders.
Why Heinicke is Called a Fit
Heinicke, 29, was the lone QB from the list by Rams Wire who started in a playoff game during the 2020s decade. And that was an evening that saw him go 26-of-44 for 306 yards with one touchdown and one pick in the 31-23 loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay.
Heinicke earned a base salary of $1.5 million in the 2022 season according to Spotrac. He’s officially heading to closure of his two-year, $4,750,000 deal with the Commanders. Could Washington still consider bringing him back and compete for the starting spot?
“Heinicke is another fringe starter who might get a shot in Washington after going 5-3-1 as a starter in nine games last year. In the last two seasons, he’s thrown 32 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions, averaging 211.1 yards per game,” wrote Rams Wire’s Cameron DaSilva.
But as for his on the field traits, here’s what could win over the Rams.
“Heinicke is athletic and willing to take chances down the field, sometimes more than he should. But he’s absolutely a quarterback you can win with, going 12-11-1 as a starter in the last two seasons,” DaSilva wrote.
Plus, to add, Heinicke does share the Washington connection with Sean McVay — as D.C was his last stop before taking over the Rams in 2017.
But like Mayfield, so much will depend on what kind of value and interest Heinicke can have in the ’23 free agency cycle. There could be other teams convinced he can compete for the starting job or give him an attractive contract offer and place him on a playoff contender, especially since Washington became a challenger for the playoffs with him and head coach Ron Rivera together.
QB With Ties to New OC Also Mentioned as Possibility
If Mayfield isn’t resigned, or Heinicke isn’t brought over, then this name bears watching given his ties to new Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur: New York Jets quarterback Mike White, who’s another free agent.
“It’s possible that the Jets will keep White around as a potential starter in 2023, assuming they move on from Zach Wilson. But if they let him walk, he would make a lot of sense for the Rams, who just hired former Jets OC Mike LaFleur,” DaSilva wrote. “White can be a high-volume passer and a productive one when given the chance, but he also has to cut down on turnovers and make better decisions.
“While not the most mobile quarterback, he’s quick enough to avoid pressure and extend plays with his legs,” DaSilva continued. “And he’s on the Stafford level of toughness, so you can bet he’ll try to play through any potential injury he might suffer.”
White, 27, went 1-3 after replacing Wilson and finished with 103 completions out of 175 attempts, threw for 1,192 yards, tossed three touchdowns and was intercepted four times. He delivered two 300-yard games with LaFleur as his OC against the Chicago Bears (315 in the 31-10 rout on November 27) and Minnesota Vikings (369 in the 27-22 loss on December 4).