It's great Taylor Heinicke is back, but the work isn't over in Washington

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It's great Heinicke is back, but Washington's work isn't over originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Taylor Heinicke earned his two-year contract extension from the Washington Football Team with his impressive play in a playoff loss to Tampa. He threw for 300 yards and ran for nearly 50 more and kept Washington within one score in an epic personal performance against the eventual Super Bowl champion. 

Good for Heinicke, and good for Washington. 

Ron Rivera talks about competition and meritocracy, and if anybody proved that he belongs, it was Heinicke. 

For anybody arguing Washington paid too much for Heinicke, who only had one full-game of an impressive performance, that's incorrect. While reports show Heinicke's deal could be worth up to nearly $9 million, it would take a serious amount of incentives reached to get that full amount. 

And for anybody arguing the opposite, that Heinicke could have held out for a more robust market in free agency, that's incorrect too. To begin with, Washington controlled his rights, and further, it's unclear that free agency would have shown any real interest in Heinicke. After all, Washington only signed the former Old Dominion quarterback in early December. 

Heinicke is the right fit in Washington on the exact contract he got, and Washington is the right fit for Heinicke on the exact contract he got. 

Washington took a good first step in figuring out its quarterback situation by getting a deal done with Heinicke, but it's not the last move. Not by a long shot. 

The next move will be getting a deal done with Kyle Allen.

Though he was injured in 2020, Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner believe in Allen. In fact, during a season-ending press conference, Rivera said that he thinks the organization could have won as many games with Allen as they did with veteran Alex Smith

Allen is a restricted free agent, which means Washington controls his next move and can give him a tender offer worth about $900,000 for 2021. The overwhelming odds are he will be back at an advantageous deal for the organization. 

Here's what Rivera said about Allen earlier this month: "Kyle is most certainly part of what we're doing right now."

That answers that.

Then there's the Alex Smith question. 

An incredible story and an incredible person, the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year carries a $24 million salary cap hit for the 2021 season. 

Smith will not be back in Washington at that number. 

That doesn't mean he won't be back, but that cap hit is just unrealistic for a 37-year-old quarterback that in 2020 may or may not have dealt with lingering issues from a traumatic leg injury suffered in 2018. 

So either Smith comes back at a reduced cost, he retires, or he could possibly end up somewhere else. 

Beyond Heinicke, Allen and Smith, Washington fans want to hear about a new star QB.

It's possible, however, that might not emerge. 

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Asked about fixing the QB spot this offseason, Rivera interestingly answered that there's more to that fix than just the top layer. 

"We’re looking at not just who can be the number one but who’s the number two and is that number two a guy that’s going to have a chance to grow in to be the number one," the coach said. 

The truth is Washington might not have a good option. Is Deshaun Watson really going to get traded? Really?

Russell Wilson? Aaron Rodgers? To borrow a phrase from Randy Moss, c'mon man. 

And if Washington can't land an obvious upgrade at QB, a bonafide star, then should Rivera's team spend a lot of resources - money or draft picks - to acquire somebody that might not be the answer?

Matt Stafford is gone. Even Jared Goff is gone. Derek Carr? 

The next tier of available passers all have major questions, if not downright warts.

A source with knowledge of the situation explained Washington isn't looking at pursuing Carson Wentz, which is fairly obvious considering it's within the division, and it doesn't look like Dak Prescott will become available. 

So.....Sam Darnold? Mitch Trubisky? Marcus Mariota? Jameis Winston?

It's possible the best course for Washington is to hold course. 

RELATED: The 2020 Washington Football Team and 2019 Buccaneers overlap in some interesting ways

The point here is not to suggest that's enough for Washington to make a deep January run or compete for a championship, but that quarterback might not prove available in 2021. 

If Washington can get that guy, and maybe a surprise cut will emerge as the salary cap drops down this year and veterans feel the squeeze, the team should make a big move. 

But if not?

Does it make sense to give up picks for Darnold? Or Mariota? To pay up for Trubisky? Winston?

Maybe, but it's no sure thing. 

Finding a great quarterback is really, really hard. It's a supply and demand problem, and there aren't enough. 

Maybe the team will draft a passer, and that could include Alabama QB Mac Jones at No. 19 or maybe even a trade up for a more coveted QB. 

The Washington Football Team absolutely needs to do everything it can to field the best possible team in 2021, but it's possible that won't mean a significant change at quarterback. 

Heinicke is back. Expect Allen back too. Beyond that, wait and see.