WFT's Taylor Heinicke Placed on COVID-19 List; Garrett Gilbert Signs Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2021

Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) jogs on to the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
AP Photo/Terrance Williams

Just two days before their game against the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Football Team announced that they've placed starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Washington was set to sign quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who is in line to start Sunday with Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen both on the COVID list.

As of Thursday, Washington had placed 21 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including several key defensive starters, such as defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat, cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Kamren Curl.

Since Ryan Fitzpatrick was lost for the season in Week 1, Heinicke has started every game for Washington, going 6-6.

In 13 appearances, he has completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 2,931 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while also rushing for 297 yards and a score.

While it can be argued that Heinicke has been a mid-tier to low-end starter, he has given Washington much better quarterback play than it received last season from Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen en route to a 7-9 mark and the NFC East title.

Washington and Philly are tied for second in the NFC East this season at 6-7, three games behind the Dallas Cowboys. Winning the division is a tall order for either team, but a wild-card spot remains a possibility.

The WFT would own the final playoff spot in the NFC if the postseason began today, but four other teams, including the Eagles, are tied with them at 6-7.

Gilbert, 30, is a journeyman quarterback who has spent time in seven different NFL organizations and doesn't have much regular-season playing experience.

He made his first and only career start last season for the Cowboys, going 21-of-38 for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Gilbert had spent this season on the New England Patriots' practice squad, but now he is set to be thrown into the proverbial fire in what is the biggest game of Washington's season thus far.

Making things even more difficult for Gilbert is the fact that wide receiver Cam Sims and center Tyler Larsen are on the COVID list, while wide receiver Terry McLaurin and running back J.D. McKissic are in concussion protocol.

Despite Washington having so many players on the COVID list, the NFL has given no indication that it intends to postpone the 1 p.m. ET kickoff in Philadelphia.