Mayhew praises Heinicke for 2021 but wants to upgrade at QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Nearly one year ago, the Washington Commanders thought the team had, at the minimum, found its temporary solution at the quarterback position in free agency. Washington inked veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal, a QB who was coming off one of the best years of his career. The thinking was that Fitzpatrick, at the very least, would be an upgrade over the four QBs Washington played en route to an NFC East title in 2020.
Yet after just 16 snaps in Week 1, Fitzpatrick suffered a season-ending hip injury. Washington turned to backup Taylor Heinicke — a near playoff hero the previous January — who would start the remaining 16 games in 2021. Heinicke’s play was up and down throughout the season, but the Commanders walked away from 2021 knowing upgrading at the position would, once again, be priority No. 1 this offseason.
Speaking with the present media at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Washington general manager Martin Mayhew was asked a general question about the QB position. He began his response by unpromptedly praising Heinicke for his effort last year.
“I want to say how much I appreciate Taylor Heinicke,” Mayhew said. “He had a battlefield promotion. Our starter played 16 snaps last season. He was our backup and played the entire season for us. He did yeoman’s work. One of the hardest working guys that I’ve been around one of the toughest competitors. So I just think the world of Taylor and really appreciate him.”
Yet, while Mayhew is clearly fond of Heinicke, the general manager quickly changed the topic to how the Burgundy and Gold have been exploring every avenue possible to upgrade at the sport’s most important position.
“We are looking to upgrade that position and we’re looking at every angle that’s possible,” Mayhew said. “We’re looking at trade possibilities, draft possibilities, free agents. We’re looking at everybody.”
Mayhew’s openness about wanting to improve at quarterback should not come as a surprise. During his two media sessions yesterday, head coach Ron Rivera talked openly about the possibility of making a Matthew Stafford-esque trade like the Rams did this past offseason to get their guy.
Rivera didn’t stop there, either. While the best-case scenario for Washington would be trading for one of the big-name QBs that could be on the move — Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson — Rivera feels the Commanders are positioned well enough to win with a second-tier QB as well.
Washington is also in a tough position in its quarterback search because Rivera wants to win now, but there might not be a realistic QB option out there outside of those three elite passers that could make the Commanders an instant Super Bowl contender. The free agent market is thin on quarterback talent, too, while the 2022 Draft class hasn’t exactly drawn great reviews by experts, either.
When making a decision on a quarterback with this big of a magnitude, Mayhew’s goal is to make sure the Commanders’ choice is best for the franchise’s long-term future. Yet, he understands Rivera’s desire to win now and knows that each quarterback’s ability to impact the franchise immediately matters, too.
“We have to make the best decision for the long-term future of the franchise. That’s what our goal is. So we’re looking at all these options in order to make the best decision for the long-term future,” Mayhew said.
“I have to look at yesterday and tomorrow, too, because if I don’t look at tomorrow, I might not be here long-term,” he continued. “We’re on the same page as far as that. Again, we’re looking at every option. But we want to make the best decision for our long-term future.”