In 15 of Washington's 17 games last season, Taylor Heinicke was the team's starting quarterback.
Heading into 2022, Heinicke is being more realistic than optimistic as it pertains to his chances of taking the field as his team's QB1 after it traded for Carson Wentz.
"I don't think that's an option," Heinicke said Wednesday when asked if he thought he'd have an opportunity to change people's minds about the starting QB position. "You look at the NFL and at the end of the day, it's kind of a business. If you're paying someone $30 million and you're paying someone else $2 million -- you're paying this guy $30 million to play, you know?"
Wentz, who was acquired from the Indianapolis Colts, is due to make $22 million in base salary this upcoming season, while Heinicke is set to make $1.5 million in base salary.
Thus, it's arduous to argue Heinicke's logic on the matter. Still, it's rather stunning for a quarterback who was 7-8 as a starter a season prior to offer such honesty regarding the prospects of him starting again.
"Carson's a great quarterback and you see it through OTAs and minicamp," Heinicke said. "And I hope he goes out there and succeeds. And again, my job is just to back him up. Hopefully, he's on his deal, help him out whatever way I can, and if for some reason he goes down, I'm ready to go play. That's how I look at it. But, again, the NFL's a business. You're paying a guy a lot of money, you're paying him money for a reason. He's gonna go play."
In reality, Heinicke is entering 2022 much the same as he did 2021. Heinicke, though he was coming off a start and a celebrated performance in a playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to end the 2020 campaign, was set to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick last year. Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick lasted just one game due to a hip injury and Heinicke took over the starting reins. Now, Heinicke is entering 2022 once again as the backup -- this time with Wentz above him in the depth chart.
"It's kind of the same cause last offseason I came in as the backup to Fitz; kinda same thing this year," Heinicke said.
Heincke, 29, had 3,419 yards passing, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions a year ago. He saw a change presenting itself, so the arrival of Wentz, also 29, or anyone else for that matter, wasn't stunning.
"I kinda knew we were gonna go out and get someone, whether it was through the draft or free agency," Heinicke said. "When you know that, you kinda just sit back and wait. You don't stress about it, you know it's gonna happen. There's nothing you can do about it."
So, Heinicke's realistic approach is set to carry him through a similar situation.
Wentz is Washington's QB1. That's why the Commanders traded for him. There was never really any debate on that, and Washington's 2021 starter certainly made that clear.