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Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke and the outlook of the quarterback position in 2024 -- Falcons Breakdown

The Falcons Breakdown series kicks off with a look at the construction of the quarterback room in Atlanta, and what changes are to come. 

NOTE: The Falcons editorial team of Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and Amna Subhan will analyze each position group during the "Falcons Breakdown" series, which evaluates how every position performed in 2023 and what to look for in 2024. Up first, the quarterbacks.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- From Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota to Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke, the quarterback position has been a revolving door in Atlanta for the last three seasons. Inconsistencies at the quarterback position have plagued the Falcons, but never quite as much as in 2023, when the Falcons went 7-10 for the third year in a row and parted ways with head coach Arthur Smith at season's end.

Make no mistake about it: The issues the Falcons have had at the quarterback position, coupled with the inconsistencies in offensive production, are part of the cause and effect of Smith's dismissal.

Much of owner Arthur Blank and CEO Rich McKay's post-season press conference went right to conversations and questions about quarterbacks of the past, present and future.

"Our quarterback play this year was clearly deficient," Blank said.

Looking squarely ahead, though, the most notable part of the conversation had to do with the future.

The Falcons are right in the middle of a coaching search, and whoever Falcons leadership decides is the 19th head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, they'll be the one to usher in a new quarterback era in Atlanta.

"It's an opportunity to kind of pick their own partner, if you will, or own spouse," Blank said. "(Someone) who they can grow with, who they can select, however we acquire them. Wherever we acquire their rights, (through the) draft, free agency or whatever it may be."

It's a decision -- they hope -- will bring with it sustained success.


2023 production:

Desmond Ridder: 15 game appearances | 13 starts | 249 completions on 388 passing attempts (64.2 completion percentage) for 2,836 yards | 12 passing touchdowns | 12 interceptions | 31 sacks | 69 carries for 257 rushing yards | Five rushing touchdowns | 12 fumbles

Taylor Heinicke: Five game appearances | Four starts | 74 completions on 136 passing attempts (54.4 completion percentage) for 890 yards | Five passing touchdowns | Four interceptions | Eight sacks | 15 carries for 124 rushing yards | One rushing touchdown | One fumble

Logan Woodside: One game appearance | Three completions on four attempts (75 completion percentage) for 27 passing yards | One interception | One carry for six rushing yards

Who stays: Take your pick

Who's on the bubble: Take your pick

Biggest offseason question: Who is QB1 in 2024?

Outside of the head-coach hire, there is no greater question for this entire Falcons organization than this one about the future of the quarterback.

The Falcons made the decision to ride with Ridder in 2023. That decision didn't work out. So, the Atlanta goes back to the drawing board, in a sense. Because of the nature of Ridder, Heinicke and Woodside's contracts and 2023 production, all three are expendable. Any combination of the three could stay in Atlanta for another season. It's just a matter of money breakdowns, and who the Falcons want to be the backup in 2024. That's what they're looking for after all. It's almost written in stone that the starting quarterback isn't currently on the roster.

According to, Ridder is set to make a base salary of $985,000 in 2024. His cap number sits at $1.46 million. Heinicke's number is a lot higher, at $5 million in base salary and $9 million in cap number. If the Falcons were to cut Heinicke prior to June 1, they would take on $2 million in dead money but would save $7 million toward the cap. Meaning, if the Falcons are choosing a cheaper option at backup, it could be Ridder over the journeyman, Heinicke.

All of this is kind of a moot point, though, because the real question involves a starter. As in: Who will be the starting quarterback for the Falcons in 2024? It's anyone's guess at this point because -- like Blank said above -- the Falcons are going to acquire QB1 by any means necessary. That means by way of the 2024 NFL Draft, free agency or a trade. There's a new quarterback coming. We know that much. We just don't have a name.


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