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Falcons QB Taylor Heinicke One Name with Arthur Smith Connections to Watch for Steelers

The Atlanta Falcons could release Taylor Heinicke, and if that happens, the Steelers would naturally be a team to watch there.



Steelers QB Taylor Heinicke

The Pittsburgh Steelers will naturally be linked to anyone that Arthur Smith has coached in the last few seasons in free agency. And believe it or not, there are a bunch of names that you can connect to Smith that the team could sign. And that is before others are cut. One of the names that will likely be cut is Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke. He would save the Falcons $7 million against the cap, and it would not be a surprise if Raheem Morris looks to overhaul that room.

While new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson did not say that explicitly in his first press conference on Wednesday, it still seems likely that the team will begin to turn the wheels over to add new names to that room.

All options are on the table,” Robinson said to Falcons reporters. “Whether it’s a pocket guy, whether it’s a guy that can move around a little bit, we’re just looking for the best guy,” Robinson said. “Certainly [we] know the guys that are here, we’re evaluating everybody, so Taylor [Heinicke] and Desmond [Ridder], we’re looking at those guys.”

But Heinicke is one target that has not been mentioned yet that could make sense. He played under Smith last season, and if you are looking for someone who would bring in competition, well, Heinicke is a quarterback who has been in perpetual competition his entire career. You could look at someone like Ryan Tannehill, who had the highs under Smith that brought Smith to prominence in the NFL.

Tannehill had a pretty forgettable 2023. He got hurt, played in only ten games, and lost his starting job to Will Levis in the process. He posted his lowest completion percentage (64.8%) since 2018 in Miami and his lowest passer rating (78.5) since his rookie year. His adjusted net yards per attempt were a paltry 4.39.

There’s plenty of reason to believe that Tannehill just might not have it anymore. If the Steelers are going to go forward with the competition strategy, Heinicke makes sense from that perspective. He is a backup with starting experience under Smith and fits the fabric of the offense well. Heinicke, stylistically, plays a lot like Pickett with some of the chaotic plays he makes out of structure.

This past season, Heinicke was nothing special. He threw four interceptions to five touchdowns with just a 54.4 completion percentage. Take it for what it is; he is the type of player that the team would at least bring in who knows that system and can bridge that gap between the new and old.

He is someone to watch, given his connections to Smith and similarities to what the Steelers have looked for in their quarterbacks. To be honest, neither Heinicke nor Tannehill are flashy names, and while someone like Mason Rudolph is not either, the team has built-in chemistry between the receivers and a natural vision in there for Rudolph. So, that might just be the better route to go if they are really going all in on this route.