The NFL's COVID crisis has already threatened to upend one team's lineup for Week 15, with the Browns preparing to play without starting quarterback Baker Mayfield and more than a dozen others. It could also affect Washington Football Team, which is fighting to remain in the 2021 playoff picture with a divisional game against the Eagles on Sunday. Starting QB Taylor Heinicke was already questionable with a knee injury, but on Friday came the news that he'll join backup Kyle Allen on COVID reserve, CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson reports.
Washington was already set to endure a lack of depth entering Sunday's NFC East tilt with nine defenders -- including starters Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Kendall Fuller -- battling COVID-19 and star wide receiver Terry McLaurin in concussion protocol. But the QB situation could be just as dire. Here's a look at all of their options (or lack thereof) under center, including a new addition on Friday, as the team reportedly signed Garrett Gilbert:
Inured reserve (hip); out for season.
COVID-19 reserve; out Week 15 unless he tests negative twice beforehand. Had already been listed as Questionable (knee); left Week 14 vs. Cowboys and did not return.
COVID-19 reserve; out Week 15 unless he tests negative twice beforehand.
Gilbert, who lost a battle with Heinicke to be the Panthers' backup in 2018, signed with WFT on Friday. Reportedly in line to start, though a decision isn't expected until game time.
Heinicke has long been locked in as Washington's QB1, with Fitzpatrick last appearing in Week 1, and he's kept the team competitive in recent weeks. But his positive COVID tests adds further doubt that he'll play Sunday; he also didn't return in the fourth quarter of the club's Week 14 loss to Dallas.
Allen, who finished last week's game under center, was added to the COVID reserve list Wednesday. He would've offered a relatively seamless transition. The former Panthers reserve has started under Ron Rivera in both Carolina and Washington, going 1-3 in place of Dwayne Haskins in 2020. But unless he produces two negative COVID tests before Sunday's game, he'll be ineligible to take the field, as well.
That leaves Shurmur and Ta'amu, neither of whom has made their official NFL debut, as the only alternatives. The former joined Washington's practice squad in September after spending 2019-2020 on and off the Chiefs' and Bengals' scout teams. Ta'amu, perhaps best known for his brief turn as a standout XFL QB in 2020, split time between the Chiefs' and Lions' practice squads over the last two seasons.