Four players playing on expiring contracts with something to prove

Each one of these players has room to improve and could be ready to show why they deserve an extension or at the least prove that they are worthy of a spot on a NFL roster.
Can Lorenzo Carter perform well enough to earn a contract extension from the Falcons?
Can Lorenzo Carter perform well enough to earn a contract extension from the Falcons? / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Taylor Heinicke, Quarterback

The player with the most at stake this upcoming season is backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke. He will be fighting for a spot on the roster after the Falcons selected Michael Penix Jr. with the 8th overall selection in the draft.

That position battle will be one to keep an eye on once training camp begins and should have plenty of headlines addressing their progress. The 31-year-old has had a decent career as this would be his 7th season in the NFL if he makes the final cut.

If he is on the Falcons final roster, Heinicke could become a trade target for another team who may be in dire need of an experienced quarterback. He is no gunslinger but is very capable of managing a game and can pull out a win depending if his offensive line can keep him upright. Heinicke had decent numbers during his lone season as a full-time starter with the 2021 Washington Football Team as he threw for 3,419 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The downside was the 15 interceptions thrown and the 7-10 record the team finished with. What teams love about him is that he has always been a supportive teammate even if he isn't on the field and when he does play, he will lay it all out on the line and play his heart out.

He is often a fan favorite anywhere he plays and is a good guy to have in that quarterback room along with Cousins and Penix Jr. Heinicke could also be heavily involved in the developmental process of Penix Jr., and depending on the outcome, it could possibly earn him a contract elsewhere in a similar role, prolonging his career.