Marcus Mariota Gaining Momentum as Browns Free Agent Target

Getty Baker Mayfield and Marcus Mariota.

The Cleveland Browns are in the market for a veteran backup for quarterback Baker Mayfield and a former No. 2 pick is gaining momentum to land the spot.

Unrestricted free agent and former Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has been mentioned as a name the Browns could target to bring in a veteran presence in the Cleveland QB room.

Former NFL scout and executive turned NFL Network analyst Marc Ross believes Mariota would be a solid fit in Cleveland under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.

“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Ross said on The Bull and The Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland. “He’s had a rough last couple of years, but I think his skill set would match up well with Kevin if he’s going to keep the play action because Marcus does that really well.”

Marcus Mariota has Reputation as a Model Teammate

Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill.

Mariota was the second overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft and won the Heisman while at Oregon. Mariota had a sensational second season in the NFL, passing for 26 touchdowns and throwing just nine interceptions. But his other pro campaigns were fairly forgettable, proving to be a capable but not great starter.

He had a 29-32 record as the starter in Tennessee, losing his job to Ryan Tannehill last season. Tannehill helped spark the Titans previously anemic offense, going 7-3 in his starts, leading the team to the AFC Championship before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

Despite being on the bench, what Mariota did show during that run was why he’s considered one of the best teammates in the league.

“With the situation last year when he got beat out by Tannehill, he was still such a supportive teammate to him and was never a distraction,” Ross said. “I think it would be good to bring in a guy with that kind of talent to give some competition to Baker and give an alternative with a high-quality backup.”

While it might be a great fit for the Browns, there’s a possibility that Mariota is not ready to settle for a backup role. After the season he sounded very sure that he’d be able to wrangle another starting opportunity.

“I have no doubts at all, no doubts at all,” Mariota told the Titans official site. “I’m just hopeful and ready for whatever that next opportunity is.”

Ross: Make or Break Year for Baker Mayfield

GettyBrowns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield was a hit his rookie year, setting the rookie passing touchdown record. But after garnering some MVP hype for his second NFL season, Mayfield finished the year with 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%) despite having both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry at his disposal.

Ross believes this season is a make or break campaign for Mayfield.

“I was a big believer in Baker Mayfield coming out of college. I thought he had all the attributes to be a consistent playoff quarterback,” Ross told the radio show. “This is make or break for him this year. He has the receivers, he has the running back, they are looking to improve the offensive line and he has a new head coach who is an offensive minded head coach. Everything is pointing towards him having a bounce back year and the Browns will go as far as he does.”

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