One of the biggest decisions the Buffalo Bills need to make this offseason is to figure out a replacement for backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who’s set to hit free agency after a year playing under starter Josh Allen.
While the Bills would love to keep Trubisky, it’s highly expected for him to take a job as a starter with another team for the 2022 NFL season. If (more likely, when) that happens, the opportunity to closely study Allen, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, and work with Bills’ offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who was a huge part of developing Allen’s talent, will be an incredibly appealing opening for quarterbacks hoping to one day reclaim a starting role.
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Therefore, it seems Las Vegas Raiders backup quarterback Marcus Mariota would be the perfect replacement to take over for when Trubisyky exits. On February 25, SB Nation‘s Matt Warren wrote in an opinion piece that Mariota “is the best style fit” to become Allen’s backup, and financially, it makes sense as well.
“Mariota made $3.5 million plus had a bunch of incentives built into his contract a year ago, and a similar deal in Buffalo would make sense especially with new leadership for the Las Vegas Raiders,” Warren wrote.
Mariota Is Expected to Field Several Offers This Offseason
If the Bills make an offer to obtain Mariota, they will be far from the only franchise looking to sign the former No. 2 overall pick from the 2015 NFL Draft. ESPN‘s Jeremy Fowler said he could see the former Titans starter getting swooped by the 49ers. If San Francisco moves on from starter Jimmy Garopppolo, the 28-year-old could be a veteran mentor to Trey Lance:
Mariota would make a lot of sense in that scenario. He would thrive off coach Kyle Shanahan’s designed runs while providing experience. Mariota and Trubisky have similar backgrounds as former No. 2 picks who have had to reestablish their careers as backups with new teams. Mariota did enough to earn a fifth-year option from Tennessee, but the franchise’s 2-4 start in 2019 led to him being benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill. He has spent the past two seasons in Las Vegas as Derek Carr’s backup, throwing 30 passes and occasionally being used in red zone situations.
Mariota’s last extended action was really good, with a 17-of-28 passing performance for 226 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers in 2020. That didn’t stop Las Vegas from cutting his pay in 2021, from $10.75 million to $3.5 million plus incentives (though, to be fair, the first number was not commensurate with the league’s backup QB scale). Either way, Mariota should have several options come March.
PFF Called Mariota the Most ‘Underrated Free Agent QB’
While Mariota makes sense as a backup in Buffalo, if he’s presented the opportunity to become a starter — there are at least 11 teams looking for a new quarterback — the former Heisman Trophy winner would likely jump at the chance. Earlier this month, Pro Football Focus named Mariota as the “most underrated free agent” in the quarterback position:
There is an argument to be made that Mariota is the most alluring free-agent quarterback on the market. That says a lot about the options out there, but nonetheless, if there has to be a choice, it’s Mariota. He has played meaningful NFL action in just one game over the last two years in Las Vegas — Week 15 of 2020 — and the results were quite good, as evidenced by his 82.1 PFF grade.
However, prior seasons showed that he shouldn’t be counted on to produce at that level on a weekly basis. His career-best passing grade with the Titans (72.1) occurred back in 2017, and it ranked 17th in the NFL. Mariota is the definition of a mid-tier option and could be seen as a bridge for a team with a rookie. His next team needs to employ a play-action-heavy offense that utilizes his athleticism in the designed run game
Raiders Wire‘s Marcus Mosher listed multiple Mariota could land as a starter for the 2022 NFL season, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Commanders, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.