- Will Marcus Mariota be a starter for Week 1 of the 2021 season?
- What about the Patriots, Bears or Broncos? Are they willing to make a deal?
- Below see the potential roadblocks for any trade involving the former Heisman winner
Derek Carr may be the most controversial quarterback in the NFL. To many, he is either a top ten QB or the worst thing to ever happen to the Raiders. But he seems on the verge of being extended. Sportrac predicts that Carr, who has two more seasons on his current deal, will get a five-year, $160 million contract.
Carr, who turns 30 next month, is coming off one of his best seasons despite Las Vegas missing the playoffs. But if he is extended, where does that leave Mariota, who was signed to a two-year year?
Odds on Marcus Mariota Being a Starter in 2021
Odds from Feb 24
When Mariota was taken as the second overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL draft, he was anointed the team’s QB of the future. Then he threw four touchdown passes in his NFL debut. He easily outplayed Jameis Winston, the quarterback selected ahead of him in the draft and added two more touchdown throws in his second start.
Injuries Took a Toll
But injuries quickly took him out of the rising QB conversation. In the 2019 offseason, prior to the start of free agency, the Titans signed Ryan Tannehill to a long-term extension. This signaled the end of Mariota’s five-year tenure in Tennessee. On March 25, 2020, Mariota signed a two-year, $17.6 million contract with the Raiders.
Although Mariota was given +350 odds to beat out Carr prior to the season, Mariota only made one appearance. This was when Carr went down with a groin injury in the first quarter of the Raiders’ Week 15 game against the Chargers.
He put up a solid showing, throwing for 226 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, adding 88 yards on the ground and another touchdown in what ended up being a 30-27 overtime loss. That performance gave teams a glimpse into the fact that Mariota has more to offer.
From NFL Now: #Raiders QB Marcus Mariota has generated a lot of interest from teams, but the max value of his contract has been an issue for teams. Trade talk has slowed considerably. Could he be eventually released? pic.twitter.com/pPlwOSS3Yk
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 24, 2021
Raiders Appear Committed to Carr
The Raiders have turned down trade interest in Carr and appear to be committed to him, so a new deal makes sense. Following the re-signing of Nathan Peterman to a one-year deal and the team looking to stick with Carr, there has been speculation that the Raiders will move Mariota.
Trade market for Marcus Mariota has ‘dried up significantly’ per report https://t.co/tdxrXhO2vC
— Kevin Wade (@KwadeSays) February 24, 2021
The former Heisman Trophy winner could be a good fit with the New England Patriots or the Chicago Bears, who rotated between QB1 Mitchell Trubisky and backup playmaker Nick Foles. Denver could be a landing spot for Mariota after Drew Lock really struggled in 2020. This lead to questions about his status as the quarterback of the future.
Incentives Make Deal Difficult
But there is a sticking point for any team interested in acquiring Mariota, as has been pointed out by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, who notes that Mariota is due more than $10 million this year. If he’s going to be a bridge starter, which would be the role he would be asked to play, that figure is not bad.
Cam Newton? Marcus Mariota? Jimmy Garoppolo? Patriots must move soon at QB https://t.co/3yAaVlXJP7 pic.twitter.com/3a82J9r66i
— ESPNBoston (@ESPNBoston) February 24, 2021
The issue is the incentive. If he is the starter and ends up playing the entire season, he can make an additional $12 million. Bringing in Mariota as a starter would be much more costly. So, you have to ask yourself, which team is willing to pay more than $20 million for Mariota based on recent results?
Teams are also now wary of giving up a draft pick for the potential starter’s contract.
If no team is willing to take on that contract, the Raiders, who are currently projected to be well over the salary cap, could be forced to release Mariota. Cutting the QB would save $11.35 million on the cap with zero dead money.
Best Bet: No (-290)