LANDOVER, Md. — Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke did more than help his team win Sunday. He also pocketed $125,000. And he’ll use that money to build on his collection of Jordan sneakers.
Heinicke receives a bonus every time he plays 60% of the offensive snaps in a Commanders victory, which he did Sunday in the 23-21 win over the Green Bay Packers. He’ll continue a tradition that began last season when he earned seven such bonuses.
“Every time we get the win, when I’m in the training room the next day I always buy myself a pair of [Jordans],” Heinicke said.
And the shoes’ color scheme always relates to the team they beat.
“Tomorrow I’ll probably buy myself green and yellow Js,” he said, referring to the Packers’ colors.
He can earn up to $1.5 million in bonus money for wins. That’s how much extra he earned last season in total bonuses, which was $500,000 more than his base salary. His base salary this year is $1.5 million.
Even bigger than adding to his shoe collection, Heinicke rallied Washington (3-4) to a needed win in relief of the injured Carson Wentz. Washington placed Wentz on injured reserve with a fractured right ring finger Saturday, meaning Heinicke will start at least three more games.
The Commanders have won two in a row, but remain two games behind Dallas for third place in the NFC East. Still, they’re only a half-game out of a wild-card spot heading into next week’s matchup at Indianapolis.
Heinicke struggled in the first half, completing seven of 17 passes for 39 yards with one touchdown and a pick-six. But he finished the game 20-of-33 for 201 yards and two touchdowns, delivering a perfect throw to receiver Terry McLaurin down the right sideline for a 37-yard score in the third quarter.
McLaurin said Heinicke’s on-field attitude is infectious.
“Taylor has a lot of energy,” McLaurin said. “You can tell he plays free-spirited and I think it’s a lot of what he has been through in his career. He plays like it’s his last game every time and that energy spreads throughout the team. You want to make that play to elevate him.”
Linebacker Cole Holcomb was more succinct.
“He’s a gamer,” Holcomb said. “He’s a tough, tough quarterback — a little undersized, but he has that dog in him.”
Indeed, Heinicke was an undrafted free agent in 2015 who was out of the league for nearly two years until Washington called him late in the 2020 season. He’s listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and his play style captured fans’ attention and earned him not only respect from teammates but also a new contract in 2021 that rewards every win.
He has played for five NFL franchises and was a backup in the XFL in 2020.
“It’s an underdog mentality,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “He has a tremendous amount of faith in what he can do.”
But while Heinicke smiled big when asked about his bonus, there was a larger meaning to this win for him. He grew up a Packers fan, thanks to his late father, a Wisconsin native. Heinicke has talked often about watching the Packers win the Super Bowl in 2011 with his father, Brett, who died later that year.
So while Heinicke will have a new pair of shoes, he said he’ll also frame his jersey from this game.
“He’s up there right now drinking a beer, having a good time,” Heinicke said of his dad. “I know he’d be proud of me. This one’s for him.”
Commanders’ Taylor Heinicke to mark win with new pair of Jordans
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