Commanders to start Taylor Heinicke vs. Texans, while Carson Wentz cleared to start throwing

The Washington Commanders will face a decision on Taylor Heinicke or Carson Wentz once Wentz returns from injury, but that decision won't come this week.

Heinicke will start at quarterback again for the Commanders in Week 11 against the Houston Texans, head coach Ron Rivera told reporters on Wednesday, while Wentz has been cleared to start throwing but not designated to return to practice.

Wentz was reportedly working on the field with trainers Wednesday. He has been out since Week 6 after fracturing the ring finger on his throwing hand during a win over the Chicago Bears.

Taylor Heinicke is making his case to start over Carson Wentz

While it might feel like a tough decision for Rivera, most Commanders fans are likely sold on Heinicke being the starter under center after last week's stunning win over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles.

In four games since taking over as starter, Heinicke has posted 840 passing yards, a 62.0 completion percentage, five touchdowns and four interceptions. By contrast, Wentz had 1,489 passing yards, a 62.1 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games.

Obviously, neither of those lines are the mark of an elite quarterback, but Heinicke had a distinct advantage in one crucial area: the Commanders are 3-1 in his starts and 2-4 with Wentz this season.

Oct 23, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) talks with quarterback Carson Wentz against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Taylor Heinicke (right) has led the Commanders to three wins in four games with Carson Wentz out. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) (USA Today Sports / reuters)

There are financial and front office concerns at play in the decision as well. Heinicke is a free agent this offseason after three years in D.C., while Wentz is under contract for $20 million next season and $21 million in 2024. That contract contains no dead money after this season, though, so the Commanders could cut Wentz and save $26 million in salary cap space.

The trade that sent Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts to the Commanders also features a conditional third-round draft pick that turns into a second-rounder if he plays at least 70 percent of the team's snaps this year, something he is on track to miss.

Add all that up, and the Commanders have little reason to play Wentz unless they think he's their true long-term answer at quarterback. So far, he hasn't shown that to be the case, while the team is at least winning with Heinicke.