In February, Taylor Heinicke signed a two-year contract with the Washington Football Team after producing a promising performance in the playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let’s take a look at the structure of Heinicke’s contract, his salary cap impact, and Washington’s options.
Taylor Heinicke’s contract details and bonuses
Heinicke signed a two-year contract worth $4.75 million in 2021. The deal contains a $1 million signing bonus and $1.5 million in guarantees. Those guarantees are made up of Heinicke’s signing bonus and half of his 2021 base salary.
There is a total of $4 million in incentives and per-game active bonuses in the deal. In 2021, Heinicke is set to earn $23,529 per active game, with a maximum of $500,000. In 2022, that rises to $44,117 with a maximum of $750,000.
Heinicke still has two years remaining on his contract
Heinicke was due to be a restricted free agent following the 2020 season before signing his new contract. Therefore, he has two years remaining on the contract. As it stands, Heinicke is set to hit free agency in 2023.
What impact does Heinicke’s deal have on the Washington salary cap?
The salary cap number for Heinicke in 2021 is set to be $1,570,587. That number is derived from his $1 million base salary, $500,000 in a prorated signing bonus, and the rest in a roster bonus.
Heinicke’s per-game roster bonuses have been credited as three likely to be earned. Thus, those three currently count as the roster bonus on his contract. If he is active for fewer games, Washington will get salary cap space back as cap credits next season. On the other hand, if he is active for more than three games, any extra will be charged against the cap next season.
As it stands, Heinicke has a salary cap number of $2.75 million in the second year of his contract in 2022.
What options does Washington have with Heinicke’s contract?
Heinicke’s route to this point has been quite the story. Last season, he was not even on the roster until December. Heinicke’s career could have been over having not played a game in the XFL with the St. Louis BattleHawks. Then, on December 19, he came in for Dwayne Haskins, who was benched.
After Alex Smith was injured, Heinicke started his first game for Washington in the Wild Card round against the Buccaneers. After impressing in that contest, Washington was not willing to let Heinicke leave. As a result, they signed him to a two-year contract.
Still, as with any contract in the NFL, Washington has options if they want to end that deal early. Let’s take a look at what Washington can do in 2021 and 2022.
Could Heinicke be a trade candidate?
Given Heinicke’s performance in the Wild Card game, if he has a strong preseason, he absolutely could be a trade candidate. For instance, if a starter gets injured or struggles in training camp, Heinicke could be a cheap option with his current contract.
With just $1 million in salary for 2021 and a non-guaranteed $1.5 million salary in 2022, Heinicke would be an attractive option for a team looking for a short-term solution. Additionally, the cost to Washington would not be all that high in terms of dead money. Heinicke would count just $500,000 in dead money in 2021 and 2022 if he was traded this preseason.
What will it cost Washington to release Heinicke?
If Heinicke cannot produce to the same level he showed last year, Washington has the option to move on. Doing so in 2021 would leave Washington with $1 million in dead money this year and $500,000 in 2022. That would represent a saving of $570,587 for the salary cap, assuming Heinicke has not played or been active in any regular-season games.
Releasing Heinicke next offseason would cost Washington just $500,000 in dead money. That would represent a saving of $2.25 million in salary cap space for 2022.