Former Vikings QB forced to take pay cut to play behind Kirk Cousins in Atlanta

Atlanta Falcons QB Taylor Heinicke
Atlanta Falcons QB Taylor Heinicke / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Last month, Kirk Cousins made the decision to end his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings and begin a new journey as the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.

Shortly after the Falcons agreed to a multi-year contract with Cousins, the team traded quarterback Desmond Ridder to the Arizona Cardinals, leaving Taylor Heinicke as the only other signal-caller on Atlanta's roster.

After the Falcons signed Cousins, some wondered if the team was going to keep Heinicke as their No. 2 guy behind the former Vikings quarterback. Well, it seems like these doubts were put to rest on Tuesday after it was revealed that Heinicke recently agreed to a pay cut.

Former Minnesota Vikings QB agrees to pay cut to remain with Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons

According to ESPN's Michael Rothstein on Tuesday, Heinicke recently agreed to a pay cut with Atlanta that appears to put him on track to open up the 2024 season as the top backup behind Cousins.

A former Vikings quarterback as well, Heinicke's new deal with the Falcons has reduced his base salary from $5 million to $1.21 million, and his $1.32 million roster bonus was converted into a signing bonus.

With the new contract, Atlanta was able to clear $4 million in cap space, and according to Over The Cap, they now have a little more than $6.2 million in cap space heading into this year's NFL Draft.

Heinicke first entered the NFL back in 2015 after Minnesota signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion University. He wound up sticking around with the Vikings for two years before parting in 2017.

After his departure from Minnesota, he went on to have stints with the New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, and the XFL's St. Louis Battlehawks.

Heinicke signed a two-year deal with the Falcons last offseason, and as a native of Lawrenceville, Georgia, playing for his hometown team is something that he clearly wants to continue doing.

During his NFL career, Heinicke has had the opportunity to start in a total of 29 games, including once in the playoffs. Last season, he was Atlanta's starting quarterback for four contests, including a Week 9 loss to the Vikings.

A few years ago, Heinicke probably would have wanted to be with a team that would give him a shot to at least compete to be their starting quarterback. But judging from the pay cut he recently agreed to, he seems perfectly fine entering the 2024 season as the Falcons' No. 2 signal-caller behind Cousins.

More Vikings News and Analysis