Grading the latest six Commanders moves in 2023 free agency

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Heinicke
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Heinicke /
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(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Heinicke /

Commanders didn’t retain Taylor Heinicke (QB)

Taylor Heinicke took the NFL by storm for a brief period last season when Carson Wentz went to the sidelines. The quarterback completely galvanized the Washington Commanders with sheer will, instantly winning the respect of teammates and fans with a never-say-die attitude to get the team trending upward at a crucial time.

Heinicke was unfairly benched for Wentz as Ron Rivera gave his marquee trade acquisition one more chance to prove himself. Something he was unable to manage, which ushered in the Sam Howell era in Week 18 against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Commanders were rumored to be in discussions with Heinicke about an extended stay. However, the Atlanta Falcons made him an offer he couldn’t refuse thanks to a two-year, incentivized deal that has a maximum value of $20 million.

Unless Heinicke beats out Desmond Ridder for the starting job, that’s top-end backup money. Something the Commanders were right not to match as Howell looks set to take over the reins in 2023.

Grade: A

This is a win-win for all parties. It allows Heinicke to return home and fight for a No. 1 job with more money than ever, while the Commanders can find a veteran capable of nurturing Howell through his important transition.