Mariota was drafted second overall in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. He has played all four years in the league as their starter, and his career numbers, while not gaudy, are still better than some. Mariota has 13,183 career yards passing, 76 touchdowns and 44 interceptions with an 89.6 rating.
Mariota had a rough season last year. He missed two games in 2018 with assorted injuries, while still playing through them. While he has missed time every season due to injuries, his most significant injury to date has been a broken fibula. He hasn’t had any major or reconstructive surgeries and turns 26 at the end of the month, so he is potentially just entering his prime.
His contract is also up this year, and after this benching, it seems the Titans could be ready to move on from Mariota. So where could he go next? Considering how dire the need is for quarterback play in the league, there are several options.
With Andy Dalton being perpetually unable to win in the playoffs (he’s 0-4 in the postseason) the Bengals may move on. While Mariota isn’t exactly Mr. Postseason (he’s 1-1 in playoff games) he is an arguable upgrade from Dalton.
Their numbers this season: Dalton has 1,647 yards passing, seven touchdowns and five interceptions with an 82.8 rating. Mariota has 1,179 yards passing, seven touchdowns and two interceptions with a 91.7 rating. Mariota has also rushed for 129 yards so far this season and would bring an element of elusiveness in the pocket that isn’t there with Dalton.
Mariota would also have weapons in Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and Jon Ross (when healthy), and he might be a better fit in Cincinnati than anywhere else.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians cannot be too happy with the turnover machine his quarterback, Jameis Winston. Winston has a whopping six turnovers against Carolina in London Week 6, and while Arians is hoping his fifth-year quarterback can play at a consistent and relatively turnover-free level, he did note that if he sees another game like it, that could present a problem.
“If it happens again, yeah, it will concern the hell out of me,” Arians said after the game. Considering Winston’s history with turnovers, and his inability to get rid of the ball before being sacked, this will likely happen again. And if it does, Mariota could get a good hard look from the Bucs.
There will be plenty of fans who may scoff at this. But as bad as he has been, Mariota’s numbers still out shadow those put up by Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky has missed one full game and most of another this season. Trubisky also missed two games last year due to mild injuries, so both he and Mariota have had non-serious injuries that have cost them both a few games per season on average. Both quarterbacks can run the ball, and despite having nearly two full seasons of experience on Trubisky, Mariota is just one year older than Mitch.
Mariota also has a major connection waiting for him in Chicago. Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was his coach and mentor at Oregon, and that could be a factor here, as well. Many credited Helfrich with helping Mariota win the Heisman Trophy, and their past connection could be something to watch moving forward.
Case Keenum clearly has not been the answer. Neither has Colt McCoy. And the team seems to think that their first-round draft pick, Dwayne Haskins, is nowhere near ready for the field. Perhaps they could pick Mariota up and see what he has.
Washington’s offensive line is awful, but Mariota is more of a playmaker than McCoy or Keenum, and if Haskins isn’t ready, Mariota could be a serviceable option for the next few years. Considering the future of Alex Smith is still way up in the air, Mariota could be one of the better QB’s they have a chance at poaching.
The Steelers are currently hurting at the quarterback position. After losing Ben Roethlisberger to season-ending elbow surgery and seeing second-stringer Mason Rudolph go down with a concussion, the team has very limited options at the position right now. Third-stringer Delvin Hodges started the Steelers’ last game.
Rudolph is still in concussion protocol and will likely return soon, but there isn’t much depth in the Steelers’ quarterback room, and how the aging Roethlisberger recovers from another injury is yet unknown. Mariota could give the team something more viable to work with, at least in the short term.